A LISBURN Doctor is asking local people to take part in a new research study which could help solve some of the mysteries surrounding Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Ian Wallace is examining the link between fruit and vegetable intake and insulin resistance and contacted the Star following our story of local woman Rosie Cummings' weight loss, which led to the Type 2 Diabetes sufferer's blood sugar levels returning to normal.
Ian, who works in the Regional Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Royal Victoria Hospital, is part of a team carrying out the FIRST study (Fruit, vegetable and Insulin Resistance Study), which is being run jointly by Queen's University Belfast and the Centre.
The study has been awarded a contract of £910,000 by The Food Standards Agency to look at links between diet and risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Ian explained: "Whilst reading the Star I noticed the story of Ms Rosie Cummings who has been remarkably successful in improving her health via losing weight.
"Ms Cummings would have had a state of insulin resistance, where the insulin her body is producing is not working as well as it should be.
"Initially the body will compensate by producing more insulin, but eventually the body will no longer be able to produce enough extra insulin, blood sugars will rise and the person will develop diabetes.
"We know that excess weight increases insulin resistance and in Mrs Cummings case, weight loss has led to her cure from diabetes.
"In my work I am currently examining the effects of diet on reducing insulin resistance and thought that people in the area may be interested to take part in my study."
He continued: "We have heard of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and it may be that fruit and vegetable intake contributes to these beneficial effects.
"The FIRST study aims to examine if this is the case."
Ian is currently recruiting volunteers to take part in the study. Participants should be currently in good health, normally eat less than two portions of fruit and vegetables per day and not have a history of diabetes or heart disease.
Participants follow a diet of either 1-2, 5 or 7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day for a period of 12 weeks.
Measurements of bone health, blood pressure, insulin resistance, eye health and a number of vitamin levels in the blood are taken at the start and end of the 12 week period. Measurements are performed at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Ian is working alongside Dr Michelle McKinley (QUB) and Claire McEvoy (state registered dietician).
"As part of our study we offer participants dietary advice as well as the assessment of risk for diabetes and heart disease, blood pressure, body fat composition, bone health and eye health.
"This is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in improving their health to have a whole body MOT."
Claire assists all participants in innovative methods of incorporating fruit and vegetables into their diet.
All participants will have their fruit and vegetables delivered free of charge to their homes and will receive a payment of £200 on completion of the study.