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The More Whole Grains, The Less Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes

Dec 22, 2018
 
Editor: Joy Pape, MSN, FNP-C, CDE, WOCN, CFCN, FAADE

Author: Melissa Bailey, Pharm.D. Candidate, USF College of Pharmacy

Study strengthens existing dietary advice that patients should switch from products made from white flour to whole grains.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, explored the medical records of tens of thousands of people over the years to have a better understanding of how eating whole grains influences a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes. In previous studies, only specific types of whole grains, mainly wheat, were studied for protective benefits of type 2. In this study, researchers wanted to examine different types of cereals, as they contain different types of dietary fiber and bioactive substances, which influence risk factors for T2D.

Data from the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort study was collected. There were 55,465 participants ages 50 to 65 years and diabetes free who were used in the study, and had an average of 15 years for follow-up. Upon joining the study, participants completed forms where they gave details about their diets, including the amount of whole grains (wheat, rye, and oats) consumed daily. They were also required to answer what kind of whole grains they were consuming, such as breads, oatmeal, and muesli.

Using Denmark’s national diabetes register, researchers found that 7,417 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the follow-up period. They also found that eating any type of whole grain daily appeared to keep patients free from type 2 diabetes.

Consumption of whole grains was associated with an 11% and 7% lower risk of type 2 diabetes per 16 grams of whole grains servings daily for men and women (HR; 95% CI; men 0.89; women 0.93). There was a difference between men and women when it came to the intake of all whole-grain cereal types and type 2 diabetes risks. In men, there was a significant association with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes; however, for women, only wheat and oats intake was significantly associated with a lowered risk. For both men and women, rye bread, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal/muesli were significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

These findings back existing dietary advice for the prevention of diabetes, which recommends switching from white flour to whole-grain foods, as they offer several positive effects. Authors add that some people may wrongly avoid eating whole grains altogether because they are looking to follow diets with low carbohydrate intake. However, not all foods high in carbohydrates need to be avoided, as they are not harmful.

“In this cohort study, we found consistent associations between high whole-grain intake and lower risk of type 2 diabetes,” researchers concluded. “Overall, an association was found for all different cereals and whole-grain products tested.”

Practice Pearls:

  • Researchers collected information from 55,465 participants ages 50 to 65 years and had them complete questionnaires about the amount and types of whole grains consumed daily.
  • A consistent association between high whole-grain consumption and lower risk of type 2 diabetes was found for all different cereals and whole-grain products tested.
  • Researchers state this study strengthens existing dietary advice that patients should switch from products made from white flour to whole grains.
  • Whole grains are not harmful, especially in patients following low carbohydrate diets, and should not be avoided, as they offer health benefits.

Reference:

Cecilie Kyro, Anne Tjonneland, Kim Overvad, Anja Olsen, Rikard Landberg; “Higher Whole-Grain Intake Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes among Middle-Aged Men and Women: The Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort” The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 148, Issue 9, 1 September 2018, Pages 1434–1444, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxy112

Melissa Bailey, Pharm.D. Candidate, USF College of Pharmacy