Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood, causing levels to become too high, and left untreated, serious complications such as kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease and stroke can occur. High blood sugar levels can be prevented or managed with lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, but while the NHS recommends 30 minutes of “moderate” aerobic exercise five days a week, a recent report by the World Health organisation estimates a third of UK adults aren’t active enough. Now, new research by experts in New Zealand says consuming a specific type of blackcurrant could help “sedentary” adults walk for longer without getting tired. The effects took hold just an hour after taking the blackcurrant supplement.
New research by experts in New Zealand says consuming a specific type of blackcurrant could help fight type 2 diabetes
Meanwhile the superfood also resulted in a ‘dramatic’ 90 percent reduction in the build of enzymes linked to the onset of dementia and depression.
The study’s lead author Dr Suzanne Hurst said: “Identifying foods or dietary supplements that specifically support the desire to exercise daily will enable an individual to adhere to an exercise programme and maintain and active and healthy lifestyle.”
And she found that drinking blackcurrant juice “one hour before exercise supports positive affective responses during a low impact walking exercise in healthy sedentary adults”.
The blackcurrants themselves were grown in New Zealand – and because of the Southern Hemisphere’s intense UV light, this produces unusually high levels of protective and health-giving nutrients compared with berries grown elsewhere.
The key ingredients are anthocyanins, pigments in the fruit’s skin responsible for their dark purple colouring, which belong to a group of flavonoids called ‘polyphenols’ and possess high levels of antioxidants.
The participants – a group of male and female adults aged between 20 and 59 – were given either blackcurrant juice or a placebo an hour before they were asked to walk on a treadmill.
The average time walked by those who’d taken blackcurrants was 11 minutes longer than those who hadn’t.
While only 10 percent of those who’d had the placebo walked a distance greater than 10km – compared with 30 percent of participants in the blackcurrant group.
The treadmill walkers who’d had blackcurrants also reported lower ‘exertion’ scores – and higher overall ‘mood’ scores – than those who’d had the placebo. Test subjects also underwent a blood test both before and after the experiment.
And it’s here they noted a huge decrease in something called ‘monoamine oxidase-B’, or MAO-B, activity – something they believe could help fight neurological diseases like dementia.
Dr Hurst, of the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research, says: “We found that plasma collected 1 hour after blackcurrant consumption showed a dramatic acute decline – 90 percent – in platelet MAO-B activity, which was still detectable in participant’s plasma once they had stopped exercise.
“The pharmacological inhibition of brain MAO-B activity has been used to treat those diagnosed with neurological diseases and depression, potentially through their neuroprotective properties in reducing the metabolism of monoamines.”
The findings were reported in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and they have been welcomed by Nicki Bundock, of Surrey-based firm CurraNZ, the UK’s leading supplier of New Zealand blackcurrants supplements.
Nicki explained: “Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. But if you’re not an active person, starting an exercise plan and actually sticking with it can be incredibly difficult.
“Studies have shown more than half of us ‘drop out’ of exercise plans after just six months, reverting to inactive lifestyles. And it’s therefore vital we find ways to make exercise more tolerable and enjoyable.
“This study suggests blackcurrant supplements can boost time spent exercising while also making it feel easier and more pleasurable. And the less stressful exercise is, the more likely it is to become a habit.
“The fact the study also suggested benefits to neurological health make it even more welcome.”
Previous studies have also demonstrated the positive effect of blackcurrants on blood sugar.
A clinical trial carried out at the University of Aberdeen showed the fruit could affect how the body breaks down carbohydrates and sugars, reducing the amount of sugar that ends up in the bloodstream after a person eats a meal.
Another fruit found to have a positive impact on blood sugar is guava.
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