Diet rich in whole grains may prevent type 2 diabetes

March 18, 2003 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Diet rich in whole grains may prevent type 2 diabetes

Eating whole-grain foods such as fiber-rich breakfast cereals, brown rice, barley and oatmeal may cut a person's risk of type 2 diabetes new study findings from Finland suggest.

The study of more than 4,300 adults found that those reporting the highest intake of whole grains were 35% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake. Much of this reduced risk seemed to stem from the whole-grain eaters' intake of fiber-rich cereals.

Participants with the highest cereal-fiber intake were 61% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes during the 10-year study than were those with the lowest intake. The findings are based on an analysis of dietary and lifestyle habits of men and women ages 40 to 69.

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, is often linked to obesity. Once seen almost exclusively in older adults, type 2 is on the rise among US adults and children, as is obesity. Cutting overall calories, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent type 2 diabetes, but the effects of specific dietary components has been unclear.

Type 2 diabetes arises when the body loses its sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that shuttles sugar from the blood and into cells to be used for energy. People with the disorder see their blood sugar levels soar, which over time can lead to complications such as heart and kidney disease and nerve damage.

It's thought that fiber might help combat type 2 diabetes in a couple of ways. Compared with simple carbohydrates like white bread, fiber-rich carbs are slowly digested and absorbed, leading to less insulin demand. And insoluble fiber speeds through the intestines, leaving less time for carbohydrates to be absorbed.

However, whole-grain foods contain a host of components other than fiber that might contribute to the lower diabetes risk they found.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.