Overweight adults with a diet rich in wholegrains could significantly reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard University.
The study found that insulin sensitivity improved in a group of overweight and obese adults when their diet contained foods such as brown rice, oats, corn and barley. It is published in the recent edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Patients with type 2 diabetes have a reduced response to the hormone insulin which means that their blood glucose levels are high. The high blood sugar levels can lead to heart disease, kidney damage and other related problems.
"Insulin sensitivity may be an important mechanism whereby wholegrain foods reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease," reported Dr. Mark A. Pereira from Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, in the journal.
Previous studies have shown that wholegrain intake is inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So the team devised a study where 11 sedentary adults with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 27 (25 is overweight, and 30 is obese) consumed a diet in which 55 per cent of total calories came from either wholegrain carbohydrates or processed carbohydrates, for six weeks.
Then study participants were asked to eat their usual diet for six to nine weeks and then switch to the alternate diet for the following six weeks.
Insulin levels were ten per cent lower and blood glucose levels were slightly reduced when study volunteers ate a wholegrain rich diet, regardless of body weight, the team found.
"Wholegrain foods may have favourable effects on insulin sensitivity and these may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease," concluded the team.