Can Whole Grains Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

Wednesday November 14 is World Diabetes Day. Doctors have known for years that whole grains are part of a heart-healthy diet, but according to a recent study, eating more whole grains may have an impact on type 2 diabetes as well.

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CLEVELAND – Doctors have known for years that whole grains are part of a heart-healthy diet, but according to a recent study, eating more whole grains can help prevent type 2 diabetes as well.

The study looked at 55,465 participants between the ages of 50-65.

Researchers found that the highest whole grain intake among men was associated with a 34 percent decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Women who ate the most whole grains saw a 22 percent decreased risk.

“Whole grains, which are fiber, can help with diabetes, because fiber helps with insulin sensitivity,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, M.D., who did not take part in the research.  “Fiber is harder to break down, and as a result, it stabilizes blood sugar, so you don’t get those spikes in blood sugar that you get with refined sugar. 

Dr. Kellis said whether people have type 2 diabetes or are trying to prevent it, it’s important not only to eat plenty of whole grains, such as wheat, rye and oats, but to also cut back on refined grains.

Too many refined grains such as sugary beverages, sweets, pastries, white breads, white flour, white pasta, and white rice can cause a spike in blood sugar.

And even if a food label advertises ‘whole grains,’ it’s still important to read the label in its entirety to make sure that there aren’t hidden refined sugars as well.

Dr. Kellis also reminds us that whole grains are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to type 2 diabetes prevention.

“Yes, increasing whole grains will help to reduce the risk of diabetes, but you want to incorporate vegetables, and lean protein, healthy fats and fruits into your diet as well,” she said. 

Complete results of the study can be found in The Journal of Nutrition.

 

 

 

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