March Research Roundup

13 March 2024 by Leanne Scott

March Research Roundup

Latest Health Research News

Here is your round up of the latest health research news from around the world.  Our monthly research round ups are compiled by Lead Instructor and Program Director Leanne Scott, FNTP

Menstrual Products contain harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals

A systematic review found that tampons, pads, and liners contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which are absorbed through highly permeable vaginal and vulvar tissue.

The specific chemicals identified include phthalates, volatile organic compounds, parabens, environmental phenols, fragrance chemicals, dioxins, and dioxin-like compounds.  If you’re looking for safer alternatives, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Personal Care Products.

Light Exposure Prior to Bedtime Linked to Gestational Diabetes

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine found that greater pre-sleep light exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy was associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes, a condition with potential serious impact on the health of both mother and offspring.

The prospective cohort study, published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal Fetal Medicine, assessed 741 women at eight clinical sites in the US between 2011 and 2013. It was found that the women who developed gestational diabetes had greater light exposure during the three hours before sleep onset but not in the daytime or while sleeping.

Lead author Dr. Minjee Kim suggests: “Try to reduce whatever light is in your environment in those three hours before you go to bed. It’s best not to use your computer or phone during this period. But if you have to use them, keep the screens as dim as possible.”

Sources: Dim lights before bedtime to reduce risk of gestational diabetes. Northwestern Now, March 13, 2023
Kim M, Facco FL, Braun RI, et al. The association between light exposure before bedtime in pregnancy and the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM, 2023; 100922. 

Improved Health Outcomes for Type 1 Diabetics on a Ketogenic Diet

“Research increasingly shows that strongly limiting dietary carbohydrate can have a profound effect on improving quality of life and reducing risk for long-term complications in people with type 1 diabetes.” (Source

A paper published recently in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Case Reports highlights the remarkable improvements in glycemic control and quality of life a young male with type 1 diabetes experienced after adopting a ketogenic diet.

The individual profiled decreased his daily carbohydrate intake from approximately 140 grams to 25-30 grams over the course of several months. His new diet consisted mostly of fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, goat cheese, butter, and fish.  His HbA1c dropped from 7.2% at baseline to 5.1% at the end of the study. In post-study follow-ups, it has remained at a normal, non-diabetic level, reported at 5.2% and 5.4% and the subject reported no occurrences of severe hypoglycemia or ketoacidosis. Moreover, he was able to change the types of insulin he uses to make it easier to control his blood glucose, with an overall 67% decrease in the total amount of insulin required. 

So, he experienced better glycemic control using less insulin. This is a key point, because individuals who require supra-physiologic doses of exogenous insulin may be at risk for developing “double diabetes” – type 1 diabetes coupled with resistance to the injected insulin resembling type 2, with all the attendant adverse effects and co-morbidities associated with this.

This is in marked contrast to what he experienced prior to the very low-carb diet: “Although the patient strictly adhered to the doctor’s recommendations, including carbohydrate counting and dosing rapid-acting insulin with meals, he experienced large fluctuations in his blood glucose levels, difficulty in concentrating and thinking clearly at times, along with increased fatigue.”

The subject also measured blood ketone levels (beta-hydroxybutyrate), typically seeing an average of 1 to 1.5 mmol/L, with a range of 0.2 to 2 mmol/L. As noted in the paper, this is a safe and physiologically normal level, well below anything approaching ketoacidosis.

Research increasingly shows that strongly limiting dietary carbohydrate can have a profound effect on improving quality of life and reducing risk for long-term complications in people with type 1 diabetes. The most fundamental truth should be self-evident, but the paper states it nicely: “If insulin is in short supply and carbohydrates cannot be properly metabolized, a low-carb diet would lower the amount of insulin needed.”

And since much of the glycemic volatility in type 1 results from a mismatch between exogenous insulin and the body’s reaction to it (with diet, admittedly, being just one factor that affects insulin sensitivity), it stands to reason that using lower doses may help to reduce the dangerous and complication-inducing highs and lows.

The paper stated, “The findings of this study demonstrate that following a ketogenic diet can have a positive impact on patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. This dietary modification seems to decrease blood glucose variability, decrease HbA1c levels, reduce the amount of insulin required with every meal and improve the quality of life.” 

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which can be reversed or put into “remission” via dietary carbohydrate restriction and other interventions, type 1 diabetes must be managed for life. This recent paper adds to the evidence suggesting that very-low-carbohydrate diets may make this management safer and easier.

Fast Food and Fatty Liver Disease

A study from Keck Medicine of USC (University of Southern California) found that consumption of fast food is associated with increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), especially in obese or diabetic people. 

NAFLD, also known as liver steatosis, is a disorder in which fat builds up in the liver, potentially leading to cirrhosis and subsequent liver cancer or failure.

Using data from 3,954 adults enrolled in the 2017-18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers determined that people with obesity or diabetes who acquired at least 20% of their daily calories from fast food had severely elevated levels of liver fat, compared with those who had lower or no fast-food intake. Among the general population, people who consumed 20% or more of their calories from fast food had moderate increases in liver fat.

Fast food was characterized as meals, including pizza, from drive-thrus or other restaurants without wait staff. Lead author Ani Kardashian, MD, observed: “Our findings are particularly alarming as fast-food consumption has gone up in the last 50 years, regardless of socioeconomic status.” In fact, over 29% of those surveyed consumed one-fifth or more of their daily calories from fast food.

Sources: Consumption of fast food linked to liver disease. Keck Medicine of USC, January 10, 2023. 
Kardashian A, Dodge JL, Terrault NA. Quantifying the negative impact of fast-food consumption on liver steatosis among United States adults with diabetes and obesity. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2023; 

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Leanne Scott

Leanne is a Board Certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Integrative Health Coach and Director of NTA Australia/NewZealand. She hopes to transform the health of future generations through loving support and self empowerment. Find Leanne at