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New study into how broccoli influences blood sugar levels launched in Norwich

01 October 2021

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Researchers from the Quadram Institute are launching a new study to understand how eating broccoli can help normalise blood sugar levels in people with pre-diabetes.

People with pre-diabetes have a higher than normal level of sugar in their blood. They haven’t been diagnosed with full Type 2 diabetes, which requires medical treatment, but are at high risk of developing it. Over 13 million people in the UK are thought to be in this situation, many of whom won’t realise as it doesn’t have any symptoms. Interestingly, prediabetes has been associated with an increased risk of diseases including certain cancers including prostate cancer.

There is evidence that certain foods in the diet can help. Broccoli has shown to normalise elevated blood sugars when eaten over long period of time. Finding a way through dietary studies to reduce high blood sugar levels and prevent the progression of pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes, is a vital area of metabolic syndrome and cancer research.

The aim of this new study is to understand how eating broccoli affects the blood sugar levels of people with pre-diabetes.

The research team are recruiting people with pre-diabetes who live within 40 miles of Norwich to take part in the study, which is being run through the Quadram Institute Clinical Research Facility, managed by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. As well as providing excellent facilities for studies with volunteer participants, it is also equipped with a commercial kitchen for the safe and hygienic preparation of foods. Here, the team have been preparing broccoli soups for the trial.

Participants who volunteer will take part in a 36-week trial split into three 12-week periods where they will eat broccoli and courgette soups to include in their diet. For the first 12-week period, participants will eat one of two soups (broccoli or courgette), then will not eatany soups for the next 12-week period, then for the final 12-week period they will eat the alternative soup. Participants who volunteer will get to eat one soup 3 times a week per 12-week soup eating period. During the study, the researchers will analyse blood and urine samples to look at the participants’ blood sugar levels. This will involve looking at a marker of blood sugar levels, Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c), a routine test for blood sugar and pre-diabetes.

The BETA study’s principal investigator Gemma Beasy said, “I’m excited that we’re launching the BETA study because it is fundamental that we understand further how broccoli influences blood sugar levels in individuals with pre-diabetes to expand the current scientific knowledge which may help develop prevention and treatment strategies for diabetes and cancer in the future’’.

The BETA Study (Broccoli Effect on Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c)) is being funded by Big C, Norfolk’s cancer charity, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research & Innovation.

To find out more about the BETA Study and for information about how to register to participate, please see https://quadram.ac.uk/betastudy.

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