Type 2 diabetes is the typical diabetes of adults in which the insulin produced is not sufficient to keep blood sugar levels under control. Type 2 diabetes paves the way for diseases of the cardiovascular system, cancer, but also kidney and eye diseases. It is therefore important to work on prevention and prevent people, considered at risk or already undergoing prediabetes, a condition in which a rise in blood sugar above the norm is observed but not yet sufficient to make a diagnosis of diabetes, from developing diabetes. Some diet and lifestyle changes can really make a difference to avoid this condition, but also to reduce the risk of complications if you have diagnosed diabetes. Exercise, preferring fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, drinks such as green tea certainly help to cope with this threat. But in the perspective of diabetes prevention there are some highly debated foods, between those who demonize them and those who encourage people to take them, we are talking about carbohydrates and in particular pasta, bread and rice. So let's try to clarify on the basis of the most recent scientific research.
Carbohydrates and diabetes
In the past there was a tendency to limit the intake of carbohydrates to control blood sugar as well as body weight. This is because refined products, white bread, pasta and rice, were more widespread. Now, thanks to scientific studies and greater awareness of the usefulness of whole foods, the action of carbohydrates is being re-evaluated. For example, it has been observed that replacing some of the sources of saturated fatty acids, such as meat, cheese and derivatives, with unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole grains, reduces the risk of heart attack (Krawecka et al, Int J Food Sci, 2019). Carbohydrates of this type are absorbed slowly, thus avoiding dangerous glycemic peaks. This occurs thanks to the presence of fibers that slow down the absorption processes of glucose, as well as that of cholesterol (Krawecka et al, Int J Food Sci, 2019).
Preferred cereals in an anti-diabetes diet
As mentioned, whole grains provide fibers that slow down the absorption of glucose and help keep blood sugar under control. Among all cereals, those with the highest amount of fiber are millet, oats and barley (Krawecka et al, Int J Food Sci, 2019).
Pasta and diabetes
As for pasta, this should not be excluded from the diet. Indeed, it should be included as an excellent source of energy. However, the type of pasta must be chosen well. For example, durum wheat pasta is preferable to refined soft wheat pasta, since it contains fibers and proteins, which slow down its digestion. Even better if the pasta was produced at low temperatures in order to preserve the nutritional properties. Finally, preparation is also important! Serving the pasta al dente helps reduce the glycemic index of the meal. This is because the starches are not completely gelatinized, making them less digestible. In this way, digestion is slowed down, as is the absorption of glucose (Krawecka et al, Int J Food Sci, 2019).
Bread and diabetes
And what about bread? In addition to choosing it made from whole grain flour, one way to reduce the glycemic index is to toast it, without exaggerating, however, to avoid forming toxic compounds (Burton et al, Eur J Clin Nutr, 2008).
Rice and diabetes
Brown rice can also be included in the diet aimed at preventing diabetes. In fact, studies have observed that the intake of brown barley and brown rice made it possible, in 4 weeks, to support the intestinal microbiota, reduce the levels of chronic inflammation and improve glucose metabolism (Bonsembiante et al, Nutrients, 2021). There is a substance, called gamma oryzanol, which is found only in brown rice and which has been shown to stimulate insulin production and at the same time reduce glucagon levels, which is a hyperglycemic hormone (Takano et al, Methods Protoc , 2021).
The role of carbohydrates in diabetes prevention, conclusions
Carbohydrates are therefore not to be demonized but, if included in a healthy and balanced diet, they provide energy, support the intestinal microbiota, counteract inflammation and guarantee nourishment and satiety. However, it is necessary to choose unrefined carbohydrates, serve them with the precautions we have indicated and, above all, do not overdo it. In fact, the intake of carbohydrates in such a way that they provide up to 70% of the calories ingested does not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. While, an unbalanced diet based mainly on the ingestion of carbohydrates increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (Hosseini et al, Sci Rep, 2022).