What are whole grains?
Just what are whole grains? What is the connection between whole grains and diabetes? Well there are three different layers to whole grains:
* The bran- is the outer layer and provides phytonutrients, minerals, fiber, and B vitamins.
* The endosperm- is the middle layer and it provides protein, carbohydrates, and B vitamins as well.
* The germ- is the inner layer that supplies unsaturated fat, antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, and phytonutrients.
So now that you know the different layers to whole grains, I want to talk about whole grains and type 2 diabetes. The important key here is to replace the simple sugars that you’ve been used to eating that help to contribute to diabetes and replace these sugars with complex sources of whole grains. You will start to look and feel better.
The effect whole grains has on diabetes and body weight
Two of the most important things about diabetes is exercise and what you eat. Now this isn’t about exercise specifically, it is important to get some exercise such as 30 minutes a day in. But by changing your eating habits into healthy ones is going to change your life and how you feel. Combining eating healthy and getting off your butt and moving is the right combination toward better health and fighting type 2 diabetes.
One of the best things about whole grains is the fiber that is part of it. The more fiber that you eat, the healthier it is for you and your diabetes and is beneficial for your digestive system. Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and B and minerals zinc and magnesium. I think we all know how important it is to get all the essential vitamins and minerals for our bodies.
Research has been conducted on how whole grain foods have an effect on obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes. They also have an effect on cardiovascular diseases. The studies included a mixture of foods that had more than a 25% bran content and whole grains. High consumption of either the whole grains and bran or cereal fiber showed a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
These studies also revealed some small but noteworthy reductions in weight gain with the same grains and fibers used. This also resulted in reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease too. The bottom line is that whole grains helps to help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes while helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
Which whole grains are best for type 2 diabetes?
* Brown rice- First of all rice in itself, is the grain that is most common to eat on the world. It is very beneficial to those with celiac disease or allergies to wheat because it is gluten free. The process of refining brown rice is similar to whole wheat. But with brown rice you don’t lose most of the nutrients that you would with refining white rice.
This includes magnesium and insoluble fiber and they are known to improve insulin sensitivity, increase blood sugar metabolism, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Brown rice is much healthier for you than white rice is and it adds more fiber to your diet. I used to always eat white rice when I was growing up. But now that I know better and know the nutrition it provides and that it helps with diabetes, it’s my choice over white rice for sure!
* Corn- I always thought that corn had no nutritional value but that’s not the case. There are antioxidants in vegetables and fruits that are knowwn as polyphenols and they are known to protect against type 2 diabetes. It’s beneficial to know that a serving of 3 cups of air popped corn contains two times the amount of polyphenols as one serving of fruit does and it also provides you with 66% of your daily recommended intake of whole grains.
Air popped corn is the choice over popcorn that is microwaved with all the fake flavorings and additives. There are many different ways to enjoy corn. You can try whole grain corn bread, corn on the cob (my favorite), tortillas, corn chips, corn bread and sweet corn. When you shopping make sure to read the labels and only buy the corn that’s whole grain or whole.
* Whole wheat- While whole wheat is not the most eaten grain worldwide, it is the third most eaten and is the most popular whole grain. Foods that come from wheat are bulgur, spelt, pastas, breakfast cereals, and breads. You can improve your insulin sensitivity because of the phytochemicals and insoluble fiber that come from these particular foods.
Labels are always important to read. Make sure you do so when reading the ingredients to ensure that it reads whole wheat or you can look for the whole grain symbol that way you know it’s 100% whole grain. Wheaties are on of my favorite whole grains. It’s a great cereal and was always my breakfast when I was a kid.
* Oats- Oats are healthy for you especially for diabetes. The fiber and water in oats will leave you feeling full and satisfying your hunger. Oats contain a soluble fiber called glucan that is very effective in lowering the glycemic index of your meal and is also beneficial in helping to lower your cholesterol levels.
On the ingredients label look for “oatmeal” or “oats.” This means it’s a whole grain for sure. Instant oats is good too but keep an eye out for the flavored varieties that have added sugar and steel cut oatmeal is the healthier choice. Plain oatmeal is much better and you can add your own healthy “additions,” such as dried fruit, berries, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Cheerios are another of my favorite whole grain cereals.
Other benefits of whole grains
* Cholesterol and your heart- To go into detail about whole grains and cholesterol- They can help to protect you from heart disease by lowering triglycerides and preventing your body from absorbing LDL bad cholesterol. We know that triglycerides and bad cholesterol lead to heart disease.
There was a study dome with women consuming 3 servings a day of whole grain foods a day and the results were they had a 30% less risk of a heart attack and heart diseases than those who had only one serving of whole grains weekly. Any kind of whole grain will aid in benefiting your heart.
* Blood sugar- As mentioned before, whole grains are huge when it comes to keeping your blood glucose from spiking and this helps in lowering your chances for developing type 2 diabetes. As in the cholesterol study, women who ate 3 servings of whole grains daily had the same 30% less risk of diabetes than women who ate either one serving weekly or none at all.
In another study it was shown that just by switching from white rice to brown rice lowered the chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 15%! That’s a big percentage just by changing from one rice to another that is much healthier for you.
* Cancer risk- Whole grains show evidence of possibly lowering risks of specific cancers such as breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer. Although the end result is still up in the air, it is a definite that whole grains can lower cancers risks. Whole grains combined with vegetables and fruits are responsible. Anything that is healthy and can help with preventing cancer should be a part of your daily diet.
* Asthma- Since consuming whole grains can ease inflammation, they also help with asthma since it is an inflammatory condition. Researchers discovered that brown rice and/or whole grain barley could reduce inflammation in the gut. There is a C-reactive protein which happens to be connected to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and fertility issues. So whole grains can help relieve asthma.
* Longevity- Whole grains can help you live a healthier life and help you feel better too. But at the same time they may help you to live a longer life. Studies were done in both men and women with women having between 5-7 servings a week of whole grains and experiencing a 30% less risk of dying from causes other than heart disease or cancer. Men also benefited from at least one serving a day of whole grains and had a 16% less chance of dying than men who had none. Adding years to your life should be a priority for sure.
* Gums and teeth- Another research done of over 30,000 men between the ages of 35- 80 where each participant who consumed the largest amount of whole grains had almost a 25% less of a chance to wind up with gum disease and that leads to issues with your teeth too. Gum disease is also linked to inflammation and whole grains help to ease that inflammation.
Other healthy whole grains for your health
* Quinoa- This food which happens to be a “seed” and not a grain has more protein than any other grain. It derives from South America and is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids.
* Bulgur- This powerhouse grain is loaded with protein and fiber and is an excellent source of magnesium and iron.
* Barley- Whole grain barley can cut cholesterol levels by as much as 10%.
* Whole rye- Rye contains more nutrients than any other whole grain in a 100 calorie serving. Rye provides as much as 50% of your total daily recommended allowance of iron and four times the amount of fiber than whole wheat.
* Freekeh- This grain is a form of ancient wheat with low carb that contains almost four times more fiber than brown rice. They contain more minerals and vitamins than other grains. Selenium helps to boost your immune system. It also aids in stimulating the growth of bacteria to help with digestion once it’s in your stomach.
Gluten free and celiac disease
This is very important to mention because barley, wheat, and rye contain gluten which is a protein that some people are allergic to. Being allergic to gluten and having a gluten allergy or celiac disease can cause multiple symptoms such as indigestion, fatigue, and joint pain.
There are some gluten free whole grains such as rice, buckwheat, and oats that are okay for those with the gluten sensitivity symptoms. But there are others who have major issues with tolerating any kinds of grains so they should avoid them altogether. If you have celiac disease, you should be reading labels on everything because in this day and age there are many foods that are now gluten free.
No matter what you decide to eat, if it’s a change in your diet, your doctor should know about it and approve. It’s always the best decision to discuss it with him or her first.
Whole grains and diabetes are connected because whole grains have many benefits for preventing type 2 diabetes and helping to lower your blood sugar. If you still need additional help in lowering your blood sugar, then I suggest you try this!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below. I would appreciate it! Thank you for reading and I hope that I helped you!