USA / The Fiber Reduces The Body's Demand for Insulin
Whole-Grain Diet Reduces Diabetes Risk
The Fiber Reduces The Body's Demand for Insulin
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
on Friday, February 28, 2003
Feb. 28, 2003 -- Whole grains in your diet can lessen diabetes risk,
according to a new study from Finland. Trouble is, Americans still
reach for white bread, rather than whole wheat, when they make a
The study puts teeth to a theory many nutritionists have promoted --
that a high-fiber diet composed of whole grains, fruits, and
vegetables keeps obesity at bay. Obesity and lack of exercise are the
top risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
A diet high in whole grains -- specifically rye -- had greater impact
on reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, reports lead author Jukka
Montonen, who's with the National Public Health Institute in
Helsinki. His study appears in the March issue of the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In this study, vegetables and fruits did not show an effect on
reducing the risk of diabetes, he adds.
A few studies have suggested a link between whole grains and reduced
risk of type 2 diabetes, but there has been little concrete evidence
until now, Montonen says.
He and colleagues conducted yearly interviews of over 4,000 Finnish
men and women from 1966 and 1972, to obtain an idea of their daily
diet. He then followed them for 10 years, to detect the incidence of
type 2 diabetes. Those who ate the most fiber decreased their risk of
getting the disease by more than a third.
"Dietary fiber is one nutrient that may provide protection against
the disease. The beneficial effect of soluble fiber may be ... the
slow absorption and digestion of carbohydrates that lead to a reduced
demand for insulin," writes Montonen.
Diabetes develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin or does
not respond to insulin properly. The disorder develops slowly over
many years. This dysfunction in insulin production causes blood sugar
levels to rise beyond what is safe for the body, and damage occurs in
blood vessels and nerves.
"Americans understand that whole grains are healthier than refined
grains, but the average person eats less than one serving of whole
grains per day," writes preventive medicine expert Simin Liu, a
Harvard researcher with the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston,
in an accompanying editorial.
"The challenge for the food industry is to make whole-grain products
more appealing than refined-grain products," Liu says.
For the rest of us, "the challenge is to develop habits to increase
whole-grain intake such as substituting whole wheat bread for white
bread when making a sandwich," Liu says. "Developing such a simple
habit may have long-term health benefits."
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1, 2003.
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