Type 2 diabetes: Inexpensive food causes blood sugar levels to plummet

The type 2 diabetes it means your body cannot process insulin properly.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, the main sugar found in the blood. With impaired insulin delivery, blood sugar levels can rise to dangerous levels.

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Fortunately, diet offers an alternative means of controlling high blood sugar levels.

The specific dietary changes can cause blood sugar levels to plummet and a new study suggests that lentils are experts at counteracting spikes in blood sugar.

According to a study led by researchers at the University of Guelph, replacing potatoes with lentils can cause a 35 percent drop in blood sugar levels.

The teacher Alison Duncanof Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Y Dan Ramdat of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canadathey discovered that swapping half a serving of starchy side dishes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates break down into blood glucose (sugar) relatively quickly, which causes an increase in blood sugar levels.

«Legumes are extremely nutrient-rich foods that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with poor management of glucose levels,» said Professor Duncanwho worked on the study with doctoral student Dita Moraveck and M.Sc. students Erica Rogers, Sarah Turkstra and Jessica Wilson.

«We hope that this research will make people more aware of the health benefits of eating legumes.»

Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the study involved 24 healthy adults fed four dishes: plain white rice, half white rice and half large green lentils, half white rice and half small green lentils, half white rice and half split red lentils.

The researchers measured the participants’ blood glucose levels before eating and for two hours afterward.

They repeated the process for plain white potatoes and the same combinations of potatoes and lentils.

«We mixed the lentils with the potatoes and rice because people don’t usually eat legumes on their own, but eat them in combination with other starches as part of a larger meal, so we wanted the results to reflect that.»

Blood glucose was lowered by similar amounts when half of the starch was replaced with each of the three types of lentils.

Pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately lowering blood glucose levels, Professor Duncan said.

«This slower absorption means you don’t experience a spike in glucose. Having high levels over a period of time can lead to poor blood glucose management, which is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Essentially, eating lentils can reduce that risk.

Legumes contain components that inhibit enzymes involved in glucose absorption, and the fiber contained in these foods can stimulate the production of short-chain fatty acids, which they can also help lower blood glucose levels, Professor Duncan added.

«We hope that creating evidence for approval of a health claim for legumes will further encourage people to add legumes to their side dishes.»

Type 2 diabetes, do you have it?

Many people have type 2 diabetes without realizing it. This is because the symptoms do not necessarily make you feel bad.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • urinating more than usual, especially at night
  • being thirsty all the time
  • feeling very tired
  • lose weight without trying
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeated canker sores
  • Cuts or wounds that take longer to heal
  • Blurry vision.

See a doctor if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, or are concerned that you may be at higher risk for the disease.

«You will need a blood test, for which you will need to go to your local health centre.

The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better.