Humble grains of barley may be potent tools for rapidly lowering blood sugar and helping ward off diabetes, according to recent research. As an added bonus, it may also reduce appetite. The cereal’s power lies in the unique mixture of dietary fibers, according to the study, published in BMJ.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden conducted a small randomized, cross-over study among 20 healthy, middle aged people. They ate bread made mostly from barley kernels at breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days. Approximately 11-14 hours after their last meal of the day researchers examined them for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Subjects’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, according to the researchers. Blood sugar and insulin levels decreased and the researchers found evidence of improved appetite control.
What caused the changes? The special mixture of dietary fiber in barley kernels stimulate the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones in the gut according to a Lund University release about the study posted on sciencedaily.com.
"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,” study author Anne Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Food for Health Science Centre, said in the release.
"It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibers can -- in a short period of time -- generate such remarkable health benefits," she said.
A much larger study (of 4,399 subjects) published in Nutrition Journal suggested fiber protects people with type 2 diabetes from the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease.