Potato Salad & Cold Pasta : Better Than Meds For Type 2 Diabetes?
Posted Aug 21 2009 11:35am
New research shows that not all starches are the same – and some may actually work as well as medication in helping to increase how your cells respond to insulin. Here's what you need to know!
By Colette Bouchez
As we age, our risk for many diseases rises. While some of these risks may not come to fruition until we are well into our senior years, there is one that daily threatens the immediate health of nearly every woman over 40 – and many as young as age 20.
I'm talking about type 2 diabetes, a problem that right now the National Institutes of Health say affects nearly 12 million American women over the age of 20 and in the process increases our risk of heart disease, kidney disease and high blood pressure.
Even more important : As our national obesity crisis continues to rise, so too do our risks for this disease. The NIH reports that in 2007 nearly 57 million Americans had impaired blood glucose – including a problem known as “insulin resistance,” the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
The good news: For most of us, type 2 diabetes is not only treatable it's preventable - and often the first line defense is right on our dinner plate!
Indeed, doctors have long advised us that reducing our intake of simple carbs (white bread, cake, sugar) as well as starches like potatoes and white rice while increasing our intake of high fiber fruits and veggies – is one way to decrease our risk of type 2 diabetes.
But now however, a relatively new sub- group of foods is edging it's way onto center stage as a natural way to not only reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but also improve our health in myriad ways.
That new food sub-group is known as “resistant starches”. And according to research findings released this week at the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference, these foods might actually work better than some medicines in helping to increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, thereby reducing our risk of developing type2 diabetes.
"These improvements are actually bigger than you get with most blood glucose lowering drugs,” said lead researcher Denise Robertson, PhD, from the University of Surrey in Great Britain.
Moreover, Roberson reports that folks at high increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as those with metabolic syndrome, are even “ more responsive to the insulin sensitizing effects of resistant starch than people with normal blood glucose levels,” she says.
Indeed, one of the reasons why type 2 diabetes occurs is because cells become “desensitized “ to insulin. How does this occur?
Whenever we eat, the sugar in our foods (and all food has some sugar) is released into our bloodstream. This sends a chemical message to our pancreas to produce insulin, the hormone that carries sugar from the bloodstream into cells where it's converted into energy to be used by muscle and tissue. The rise in insulin is the “biochemical knock” on the door that tells cells to open up and let the sugars in.
However, when we continually bombard our system with foods high in sugar (or foods quickly converted to sugars such as white bread or white rice ) our body is forced to step up insulin production considerably. When this goes on for a long enough period of time, there is so much insulin present in our body, that are cells become “desensitized” to it's presence.
No longer able to “hear” insulin's' knock at the door, they don't open up and let the sugars in. The end result: The sugars remain in our blood stream – and type 2 diabetes occurs.
What Are Resistant Starches – And How Can They Help? By definition resistant starches are foods that, while they contain starch, they escape digestion in the usual way. Instead of breaking down in the small intestine – where they release sugar immediately into the bloodstream – they pass directly to the large intestines . Here they not only provide some of the same health benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber – including lowering blood sugar - but also carry some unique advantages of their own.
Foods high in "resistant starches" include cold cooked potatoes ( such as potato salad), cooked, then chilled pasta ( such as cold pasta salad) and cold rice ( such as the kind serve with sushi). Oddly enough, these same foods, when consumed hot, would be considered non-resistant starches.
Indeed, somewhere in the process involved in cooking then cooling these foods, the starches appear to change from “non-resistant” to “resistant” - and therein holds their “magic”.
In the new study, 10 overweight people who consumed 40 grams of resistant starch fiber daily increased their body's sensitivity to insulin by more than 50% - and the more overweight they were, they more they responded favorably to the “resistant starches.
But Robertson's findings are clearly not a fluke. Indeed, to date there over 200 relatively new studies citing the health benefits of “ resistant starches ”.
Among them, research recently published by Dr. Anne Nilsson and colleagues at Lund University in Denmark who reported that when a form of resistant starch was consumed in the evening meal it resulted in improved blood sugar levels the next day, as well as fewer signs of inflammatory chemicals body-wide.
In another recently published clinical trial by Dr. Joanne Slavin and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, research suggested that foods containing resistant starch had a greater impact on appetite than common high fiber foods such as bran – another indication that blood sugar was under good control.
Adding Resitant Starches To Your Diet
Certainly you can obtain resistant starches naturally, in the foods mentioned above: Cold potatoes, cold pasta and cold white rice.
In addition, however, there are also several forms of resistant starch derived from corn that are now successfully being added to some favorite “quick burning” high carb foods – such as breads, cakes, pasta, cereals, snacks and other baked goods. The corn-derived ingredient can also be added to some beverages, mashed potatoes, casseroles and other entrees, to make them healthier fares as well.
Moreover the additives are “invisible” - - meaning you won't see or taste a difference when they are added to foods . Plus, because they are generally 'gentler” on the body, you get the benefits of high fiber, without many of the “gassy “ side effects you can sometimes experience when you eat foods such as whole grains.
As interest in the use of resistant starches grows, you are likely to see this additive identified and highlighted on food labels and featured in advertising.
In the meantime, to find foods already on your grocer shelf that include some “resistant starch” supplementation, look to the ingredient label. While you won't find the word “ resistant starch” you should find the following terms “ 'added fiber', ( in foods that don't normally contain much fiber),; cornstarch, resistant cornstarch, maltodextin, modified food starch, or “ dextin”.
Copyright by Colette Bouchez 2009 - All Rights Reserved. In addition to US Copyright, the text of this RedDressDiary article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. All formatting and style elements of this page are not available under this license, and Colette Bouchez retains all rights in those elements.