Ancient grains that help lower blood sugar levels

In an effort to effectively control type 2 diabetes, scientists are looking to the past for guidance. According to a recent study published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease, people with type 2 diabetes may experience better health outcomes if they include ancient grains in their diet. These grains – oats, brown rice, and millet, among others – are known for having high concentrations of fiber and healthy phytochemicals (which help strengthen the immune system) and not having genetic alterations.

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What is the effect of ancient grains on diabetes?
A comprehensive analysis of 29 randomized controlled trials highlights the potential benefits of ancient grains in the management of diabetes. The analysis by a team of researchers included 1,809 participants, most of whom had type 2 diabetes. The study focused on cardiovascular risk factors such as body weight, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The analysis showed that ancient grains, specifically oats, brown rice and millet, showed promising results in improving various diabetes markers such as insulin levels, hemoglobin A1c, fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

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Ancient grains improve fasting blood sugar levels
Of the ancient grains studied, oats showed significant improvements in cholesterol and fasting blood sugar levels for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Brown rice also showed beneficial effects, particularly on HbA1c and body mass index (BMI). However, the effects were not uniform across all diabetes markers.

Millet, while showing significant effects on body weight, requires further investigation due to potential confounding factors. Possibly due to the small sample size included in the study, chia seeds did not show significant improvements in diabetes markers.

Ancient grains promote metabolic health
The phytochemicals and high levels of dietary fiber found in ancient grains are believed to play an important role in improving metabolic health. These phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while phytosterols help improve lipid profiles.

Compared to modern grain varieties, ancient grains have undergone less genetic modification and boast better nutritional composition and quality. They contain high levels of certain phytochemicals and dietary fiber, which have been linked to potential health benefits related to insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, and overall blood sugar control.

Should people with diabetes eat more ancient grains?
While ancient grains can spike blood sugar levels, their high fiber levels, especially when paired with healthy fats, help reduce blood sugar spikes. Low-carb diets can keep blood sugar consistently low, but they may not be sustainable over the long term and may lack essential nutrients found in grains.

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