In the form of a smoothie, as a breakfast in the morning or a hearty snack, the important thing is not to miss yogurt and blueberries. In fact, these two foods, both alone and in combination, help prevent and combat type 2 diabetes, improving the way the body uses the sugars introduced in the diet. But let's try to understand better on the basis of a very recent scientific research that appeared in the journal PLoS One a few months ago (Shi et al, PLoS One, 2022).
Muscles and glucose
Our muscles are the main site that uses and stores the glucose that is taken in with food. This is possible through a mechanism that depends on the synthesis of different substances that, together, work to remove glucose from the blood and take it where it is needed, inside the cells. For example, the GLU4 glucose transporters are proteins that are activated mainly by two processes, namely when insulin is released into the bloodstream or by the effect of muscle contraction during physical exercise and the subsequent release of a particular enzyme called AMPK. In these conditions GLU 4 is activated with the task of allowing glucose to enter the cells. The mechanism by which glucose is taken from the blood and released into the cells allows for a reduction in blood sugar. Sometimes this mechanism gets jammed, such as when certain drugs are taken for long periods of time or a high-calorie diet or a sedentary lifestyle are followed, and the insulin produced is either not sufficient or not well used by the body. Thus, GLU 4 is not activated, or is activated less than it should, the excess glucose remains in circulation and the doors are opened to prediabetes which can become type 2 diabetes, the typical diabetes in adults. An active lifestyle and a healthy, balanced diet are certainly the first tools to prevent type 2 diabetes. In addition, some foods more than others may prove useful in improving the body's response to the increase in blood sugar after the meal. The study we're talking about today shows that two very tasty foods that are easy to include in your daily diet, such as yogurt and blueberries, can help.
How blueberries and yogurt fight diabetes, the study
The research was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice fed for 2 months with a diet high in fat and sugar.
Then, for another two months, the mice were also fed yogurt, blueberries, or a combination of the two foods along with the high-sugar, high-fat diet. Finally, the ability of two muscles, the extensor digitorum longus muscle, which is an anterior leg muscle, and the soleus muscle, which is one of the calf muscles, to use and store glucose was investigated. The choice of these two muscles is not accidental. In fact, these are muscles characterized by different fibers, the first is fast-twitch and the second is slow-twitch. This also reflects a different ability to use glucose with slow-twitch muscle better equipped to capture and use circulating sugars. Well, what has emerged is that yogurt alone improves glucose metabolism. In particular, it has been observed that yogurt, thanks to its protein content, is thought to be able to counteract insulin resistance and increase both GLU4 and AMPK, thus optimizing the interception of glucose in the circulation and its transport inside the cell. Blueberries have also shown an interesting anti-diabetic action, inhibiting the processes that would lead to the development of insulin resistance. Not only that, blueberries are able to down regulate an enzyme, called FoxO1, which reduces the use of glucose by cells. What was observed happened in both types of muscle, even in the soleus which is the one that has the most impact on the use of glucose and therefore on the reduction of blood sugar. However, it was not possible to understand the substance contained in blueberries responsible for the antidiabetic action. The antioxidant cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside has been speculated to play a role, but other compounds are thought to be beneficial as well. Even the combination of yogurt and blueberries shows the same results, even if no greater effects determined by a possible synergy have been recorded.
Conclusions and considerations
Yogurt and blueberries are able to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These two foods, in fact, are able to improve the way our muscles take glucose from the blood and use or store it, thus avoiding an increase in blood sugar. The anti-diabetic effects were observed with the two foods taken alone or in combination, even if the intake of yoghurt and blueberries together did not show an enhanced effect. As far as this food combination is concerned, one last consideration should be made. The combination of yogurt and blueberries, in the study in question, is antidiabetic even if it has no synergies. However, scientists haven't looked into what happens to the antioxidants in blueberries. In this regard, the studies do not agree, between those who affirm that milk and dairy products can reduce the antioxidant power of berries and those who instead ensure that yogurt added with blueberries increases its antioxidant power (Serafini et al, Free Radic Biol Med, 2009 - Sengul et al, An Acad Bras Cienc, 2022). While waiting for science to clarify this point, a good choice may be to consume blueberries and yogurt separately, since even on their own these foods have proven to be antidiabetic. So, green light to a nice cup of yogurt to be enjoyed on its own or with the addition of a sprinkling of cinnamon.
As for blueberries, you can enjoy them alone, as a precious mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack or in combination with a vegetable yoghurt or milk, always vegetable, when you want to prepare a smoothie.