Diet and metabolic health

I am investigating the idea that there are foods, or components of foods, which could be used as an alternative to drugs to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) associated with obesity.

For example, soft fruits such as blaeberries and blueberries have traditionally been used as folk remedies to treat the symptoms of diabetes. Berries like this are enriched with compounds known as polyphenols which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories – this means they protect cells and prevent inflammation. Obesity causes low levels of inflammation so it is thought that eating berries like these may help to reduce this and prevent or alleviate complications such as T2D which are associated with obesity.

The research we are doing could help the food industry to make their products healthier and encourage people to eat a healthier diet.

Research Focus

The group’s research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the regulation of energy balance and body weight, and to determine how dysregulation leads to obesity and its associated pathologies. In particular we study the endocrine and physiological role of factors secreted by adipose tissue. A combination of in vivo and cell culture approaches is employed, integrating molecular and protein techniques into whole-organism physiology.

In particular we are interested in dietary strategies for alleviating the metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes associated with obesity as alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions.

The genus Vaccinium (e.g. blueberry, blaeberry), has been used traditionally as a source of folk remedies for established diabetic symptoms. Berries from this family such as blueberries and blaeberries are enriched in polyphenolics recognized for their ability to provide cellular antioxidant protection, inhibit inflammatory genes, and consequently protect against oxidant-induced and inflammatory cell damage and cytotoxicity. The association of obesity with the expression of genes in the fat which cause a low level of inflammation in this tissue suggests that eating edible berries from this genus might provide a supplementary intervention to reduce this obesity- associated inflammation and the associated insulin resistance which this low level of inflammation may be causing

  • Bakery products for non-coeliac gluten sensitive consumers funded by the TSB
  • The effect of berries on metabolic health: PhD student funded by the Kuwait government.
  • Williams, LM., Campbell, FM., Drew, JE., Koch, C., Hoggard, N., Rees, WD., Kamolrat, T., Thi Ngo, H., Steffensen, I-L, Gray, SR. & Tups, A. (2014). 'The development of diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance in C57BL/6 mice on a high-fat diet consists of distinct phases'. PloS one, vol 9, no. 8, e106159.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106159
    [Online] AURA: 2014Williamsetal_PLOSone_.pdf
  • Koch, CE., Ganjam, GK., Steger, J., Legler, K., Stoehr, S., Schumacher, D., Hoggard, N., Heldmaier, G., Tups, A. & Hoggard, N. (2013). 'The dietary flavonoids naringenin and quercetin acutely impair glucose metabolism in rodents possibly via inhibition of hypothalamic insulin signalling'. British Journal of Nutrition, vol 109, no. 6, pp. 1040-1051.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1017/S0007114512003005
  • Shore, A., Emes, RD., Wessely, F., Kemp, P., Cillo, C., D'Armiento, M., Hoggard, N. & Lomax, MA. (2013). 'A comparative approach to understanding tissue-specific expression of uncoupling protein 1 expression in adipose tissue'. Frontiers in Genetics, vol 3, 304.
    [Online] DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00304
    [Online] AURA: fgene_03_00304.pdf
  • Hoggard, N., Cruickshank, M., Moar, K-M, Bestwick, C., Holst, JJ., Russell, W. & Horgan, G. (2013). 'A single supplement of a standardised bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract (36 % wet weight anthocyanins) modifies glycaemic response in individuals with type 2 diabetes controlled by diet and lifestyle'. Journal of Nutritional Science, vol 2, e22.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1017/jns.2013.16
    [Online] AURA: JONS.pdf
  • Hoggard, N., Cruickshank, M., Moar, K-M, Bashir, S. & Mayer, C-D (2012). 'Using gene expression to predict differences in the secretome of human omental vs. subcutaneous adipose tissue'. Obesity, vol 20, no. 6, pp. 1158-1167.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1038/oby.2012.14
  • Hoggard, N., Agouni, A., Mody, N. & Delibegovic, M. (2012). 'Serum levels of RBP4 and adipose tissue levels of PTP1B are increased in obese men resident in northeast Scotland without associated changes in ER stress response genes'. International Journal of General Medicine, vol 5, pp. 403-411.
    [Online] DOI: 10.2147/IJGM.S25879
    [Online] AURA: Delibegovic_HumanRBP4_PTP1B_IJGM_2012.pdf
Additional Activities

Research briefs for the Knowledge Scotland web site