Consuming whole grain foods like rye, oats or wheat can help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a study which also found that drinking coffee and avoiding red meat can reduce the risk of the disorder.
The ability to use whole grains for prevention of type 2 diabetes has been known for a long time. However, the role of whole grain sources has not been investigated. It has also been unclear how much whole grain is needed to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
“Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the US, where people mainly get their whole grain from wheat,” said Rikard Landberg, a professor at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. “We wanted to see if there was a difference between different cereals. One might expect there would be because they contain different types of dietary fibre and bioactive substances, which have been shown to influence risk factors for type 2 diabetes,” said Landberg. The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, was conducted in Denmark, where there is a big variation in the whole grain-intake.
The study showed that it made no difference which type of whole grain product or cereal the participants ate — rye bread, oatmeal, and muesli, for example, seem to offer the same protection against type 2 diabetes. What is more important is how much whole grain one eats each day — and the study also provides important clarification to the scientific knowledge when it comes to daily dosages.
The participants were divided into 4 different groups based on how much whole grain they reported eating. Those with the highest consumption ate at least 50 grammes of whole grain each day. This corresponds to a portion of oatmeal porridge, and one slice of rye bread, for example.
The proportion who developed type 2 diabetes was lowest in the group which reported the highest whole grain consumption and increased for each group which had eaten less whole grain.
In the group with the highest whole grain intake, the diabetes risk was 34 per cent lower for men, and 22 per cent lower for women, than in the group with the lowest whole grain intake.
Comparing the role of whole grains in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes against other foods investigated in other studies reveals that whole grain consumption is one of the most effective dietary approaches. Drinking coffee and avoiding red meat are other factors that can similarly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Whole grains are defined as consisting of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ, and bran. Those who avoid all cereals in an attempt to follow a low-carb diet, therefore, lose out on the positive health effects of whole grain, which come principally from the bran and the germ. Landberg thinks that cereals, and carbohydrates in general, should not be avoided in the diet.