Home Original News High glycemic and low fiber foods associated with diabetes
High glycemic and low fiber foods associated with diabetes PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Friday, 20 August 2004 23:59

It has been a long-standing assertion that there is no proof that sugar is a contributing cause behind diabetes. It is generally stated that diabetes is more related to family history, wrong eating habits, and little or no physical activity. Now a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition challenges that assertion. In a large study of 91,249 women followed over 8 years the study authors found that a diet in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates and low in cereal fiber was associated with an increased risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. The increased risk between the bottom and top fifths (or quintiles) was observed to be a large 59%.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased rapidly during the past decades in the United States. Although diabetes has increased for all age groups it has increased most in younger groups. From 1990 to 2001 diabetes nearly doubled in the 30-39 year old age group and increased by 83% in the 40-49 year old age group. Certain characteristics of lifestyle such as obesity, physical activity, and smoking are established risk factors for this disease.

According to the authors of the study, “Increasing glycemic index was strongly associated with a progressively higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The age-adjusted relative risks across quintiles 1-5 were 1.00, 1.13, 1.08, 1.31, and 1.79.” The study authors also found that, “We observed a significant inverse association between total dietary fiver intake and risk of diabetes”, and that “Of the different sources of fiber, cereal fiber was most strongly associated with decreased risk.”

Although cereal products from oat and barley high in soluble fiber, other sources of soluble fiber are psyllium, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Whole-grain and bran products from wheat and corn are major sources of insoluble fiber.

Although the mechanism by which high-glycemic diets may alter the risk of type 2 diabetes, the authors of the study propose two major pathways. “First the same amount of carbohydrates from high-glycemic-index foods, by definition, produce higher blood glucose concentrations and a greater insulin demand than do low-glycemic-index foods. It is possible that the chronically increased insulin demand results in pancreatic exhaustion that can result in glucose intolerance. Second, high-glycemic-index diets may directly increase insulin resistance.”

Physical activity strongly influences glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and has been a strong predictor of decreased diabetes risk in epidemiologic studies. A family history is also a strong predictor of insulin resistance and diabetes. It may be that the effects of high-glycemic foods are stronger in obese, sedentary, and genetically predisposed individuals.

This study showed that diets that had a high glycemic index and were low in cereal fiber increased the risk of type 2 diabetes. The risk was greater particularly in women with a sedentary lifestyle and family history of diabetes. In conclusion the study states, “This study reinforces the importance of the quality of carbohydrates consumed in preventing type 2 diabetes.”


Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004;80:348-56
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