Eating foods high on the glycemic index—foods your body quickly converts to sugar—may be associated with the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
This trend was true among Chinese and African-American women who participated in studies appearing in the November 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. However, eating more cereal fiber may be associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes in African-American women.
Even though it is a common belief that sugar causes diabetes, medical experts remain uncertain regarding exactly how diet, including carbohydrate intake, affects the development of type 2 diabetes. Studies have revealed that the body absorbs carbohydrates from different foods at different rates. This leads to varying effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods high on the glycemic index, such as rice and other simple carbohydrates, cause a rapid spike and then a drop in blood sugar. Conversely high-fiber foods tend to be lower on the glycemic index and have a more gradual effect. Some evidence has linked high–glycemic index foods with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Because high-glycemic index foods increase blood glucose levels significantly, they increase the body’s demand for insulin, the authors note. This can contribute to problems with the pancreas that may eventually lead to diabetes. In addition, high-glycemic index foods can directly decrease the body’s response to insulin by increasing the production of fatty acids after meals.
Once an individual has developed diabetes, he or she can better manage blood sugar by avoiding the foods that cause rapid blood sugar spikes.
“Our results indicate that black women can reduce their risk of diabetes by eating a diet that is high in cereal fiber,” the authors write. “Incorporating fiber sources into the diet is relatively easy: a simple change from white bread (two slices provides 1.2 grams of fiber) to whole wheat bread (two slices provides 3.8 grams of fiber) or substituting a cup of raisin bran (5 to 8 grams of fiber) or oatmeal (4 grams of fiber) for a cup of corn chex (0.5 grams of fiber) or rice chex (0.3 grams of fiber) will move a person from a low fiber intake category to a moderate intake category, with a corresponding 10 percent reduction in risk.”