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Gastric emptying: When slower is better

Posted Feb 20 2010 6:55am
When it comes to the Internet and Nascar, speed is good: The faster the better.

But when it comes to gastric emptying (the rate at which food passes from the stomach and into the duodenum and small intestine), slower can be better.

Slower transit time for foods passing through the stomach leads to lower blood sugar, lower blood glucose area under-the-curve (AUC), i.e., reduced blood glucose levels over time. Lower postprandial (after-eating) blood sugars can reduce cardiovascular risk. It can lead to a reduction in net calorie intake and weight loss.

Strategies that can slow gastric emptying include
--Minimizing fluids during a meal--Drinking a lot of fluids, e.g., water, accelerates gastric emptying by approximately 20%.

--Cinnamon--While the full reason to explain Cassia cinnamon's blood glucose-reducing effect has not been completely worked out, part of the effect is likely to due slowed gastric emptying. Thus, a 1/4-2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day can reduce postprandial blood sugar peaks by 10-25 mg/dl.

--Vinegar--Two teaspoons of vinegar in its various forms slows gastric emptying. The effect is likely due to acetic acid, the compound shared by apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar, and other varieties.

--Increased fat content--Fat is digested more slowly and slows gastric emptying time, compared to the rapid transit of carbohydrates.

Not everybody should slow gastric emptying. Diabetics with a condition called diabetic gastroparesis should not use these methods, as they can further slow the abnormal gastric emptying that develops as part of their disease, making a bad situation worse.

However, in the rest of us with normal gastric emptying time, a delay in gastric emptying can reduce blood sugar and induce satiety, effects that can work in your favor in reducing cardiovascular risk.
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