People with type 1 diabetes who administer an extra insulin injection three hours after eating could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, research has suggested.
A study carried out by researchers in Leeds and Newcastle showed an extra injection a few hours after a meal provides better control of blood glucose levels and heart disease risk factors when higher fat meals are taken.
People with type 1 diabetes mostly have to calculate their insulin doses depending on the amount of carbohydrates they have eaten in their last meal. However, this process does not allow for fat content which breaks down more slowly in the body.
Co-author of the study, Dr Matthew Campbell from Leeds Beckett University, said: “Many people with type 1 diabetes struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels around mealtimes, because the fat content in their food is metabolised after their standard insulin injection has lost its potency or has left their blood.”
The study, which took place at the NIHR Newcastle Clinical Research Facility, involved 10 male participants who all had type 1 diabetes. To measure the data, they were all provided with three meals that had exactly the same carbohydrate and protein content. The only difference was one meal was low-fat and the other two had a higher fat content.
After consuming one low-fat and one high-fat meal, the participants gave their usual insulin dose based on their carbohydrate content. For the second high-fat meal, the volunteers were asked to give themselves a further insulin injection three hours after eating.
The findings were measured from blood samples which were drawn every half an hour after eating.
Glucose levels, triglyceride levels and inflammatory markers were significantly higher six hours after eating when standard insulin injections were given after the high-fat meal. But these levels returned to normal following the extra insulin injection.
Campbell added: “Our findings show that, after a high fat meal, an extra dose of insulin provides a very simple way of both regulating blood sugar levels for short term health and protecting against the long-term risks of cardiovascular disease.
“We feel strongly that the advice given to people with type 1 diabetes needs to be updated to take this new information into account.”
The findings were published in the Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research journal.

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