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

18 March 2022

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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 diabetes and endocrinology research.

The aim of this new study is to understand how eating broccoli over time 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 conducted at 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, catering where the soups for this trial have been developed and prepared.

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 eat any soups for the next 12-week period, then for the final 12-week period they will eat the alternative soup. Participants will be asked to consume a single serving of soup 3 times a week for the 12-week soup eating period. During the study, the researchers will analyse blood and urine samples to investigate how participants’ blood sugar levels to each soup. This will involve looking at a blood marker called Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c). It is a routine blood test that measures the accumulation of sugar in the blood and used to screen for pre-diabetes.

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

The study team is very excited to launch the BETA study because it is fundamental that we gain further understanding how broccoli influences blood sugar levels in individuals with pre-diabetes. This will expand the current scientific knowledge to help develop prevention and complementary treatment strategies for diabetes and other diseases related to sugar metabolism.

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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