Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in the UK and occurs when a person’s pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to control rising blood sugar levels. Overtime, rising blood sugar levels can pose a number of serious health threats, such as heart disease and stroke. Certain dietary choices have been shown to keep blood sugar levels in check, such as a certain type of breakfast cereal.
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According to Diabetes UK, wholegrain cereals can help to keep rising blood sugar levels in check as they are as they release glucose more slowly as they rank low on the glycemic index (GI).
GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. As the NHS explains, it shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar level when that food is eaten on its own.
Fibre-rich foods such as wholegrain cereals can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar.
One study suggests eating a breakfast rich in the wholegrain cereal Barley can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
The study, conducted from Lund University in Sweden shows that barley can rapidly improve people’s health by reducing blood sugar levels and the risk for diabetes.
The research suggests that the blood sugar-lowering properties lie in the special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley, which can also help reduce people’s appetite and risk for cardiovascular disease.
“It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibres can – in a short period of time – generate such remarkable health benefits,” says Anne Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Food for Health Science Centre and one of the researchers behind the study.
The study was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels for three days at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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Approximately 11-14 hours after their final meal of the day participants were examined for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found that the participants’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control.
The effects arise when the special mixture of dietary fibre in barley kernel reaches the gut, stimulating the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones.
“After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Anne Nilsson.
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In a previous related study conducted with a team from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden researchers also found that dietary fibres from barley kernel generates an increase of the gut bacteria Prevotella copri, which have a direct regulatory effect on blood sugar levels and help decrease the proportion of a type of gut bacteria that is considered unhealthy.
Breakfast options to avoid
According to Diabetes UK, certain breakfast cereals can pose “hidden risks” for people with type 2 diabetes, as they contain free sugars. Free sugar is any sugar added to a food. Extra sugar means extra calories and eating too many calories can lead to obesity – a major risk factor associated with type 2 diabetes.
Breakfast cereals rich in free sugars include granola and cereal clusters, which, despite appearing healthy, are often full of free sugars and unhealthy fat.
As Diabetes Uk explained: “When buying cereal, the best thing to do is look at the ‘front of pack’ label, and try to go for cereal with as many green lights as possible. But also check the ingredients list, some newer versions of granola simple have nuts added in.”
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
You should see your GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or
you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting it, advises the NHS.
It added: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”
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