A new study came out this month from researchers in Denmark declaring that consuming whole cereal grains such as rye, oats, and wheat lower one’s risk of developing diabetes. Of the 55,000 participants, just under 13% went on to develop diabetes, and the researchers found that those who ate the highest amount of whole grains (approximately 50g per day) had the lowest risk. So, can studies in Denmark cross the pond to America? The answer is maybe…not. Here’s why.
1. Whole grains are healthier than refined grains due to fiber and nutrients
It’s true; for most people, eating whole grains is much healthier than eating refined grains. This is because whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, wheat, and rye have not undergone the processing that removes fiber and other nutrient-containing parts of the grain. This slows digestion and regulates the increase of blood sugar after a meal. Fiber also helps remove toxins from the body while feeding healthy bacteria in the gut. Refined grains spike blood sugar and feed toxic bacteria in the gut.
2. Whole grains can mean too many carbs for those already resistant to insulin
So, you may be thinking that whole grains are the key to a healthy diabetes diet. For some, that may be true, but for many others, it is not the case. The right diet is highly individualized.
Many diabetics have lost the ability to effectively break down and use the carbs in whole grains.
This is why even the American Diabetes Association now admits that low-carb diets, which would eliminate grains altogether, may be more appropriate for diabetics.
3. Whole grains can exacerbate type 2 diabetes
One of the lesser-known revelations about type 2 diabetes is that many diabetics have underlying autoimmunity that’s underpinning their disease progression.
A significant amount of type 2 diabetics are unknowingly suffering from an immune disorder that damages pancreatic cells, or they have an inflammatory response to insulin itself.
In fact, even for those who have a higher risk of developing diabetes due to obesity have a much higher prevalence of autoimmunity.
So, what does this have to do with grains? Autoimmunity means there is damage to the intestines that results in leaky gut syndrome. For those with autoimmunity, grain can exacerbate gut damage and lead to worsening symptoms. This may be attributable to compounds in grains called lectins, which irritate the intestinal mucosal lining. Or, it may also be caused by the high levels of toxic pesticide residue that travel into the body via grain and irritate the immune system. Recently, the Environmental Working Group reported that almost 90% of cereal grains grown conventionally contained glyphosate (Roundup), and about 30% of organically grown cereals were also affected.
Interestingly, many of these damaging pesticides are not promoted or regularly used in Denmark and may be one of the reasons why Americans are not yielding the same benefits from grains that Europeans are.
The Bottom Line
If you suffer from diabetes, you’re probably sick of trying every fad diet and headline approach to nutrition. The truth is that there is no single diet that will be right for all diabetics. Diets are extremely unique to the individual needs of each patient. That is why we use cutting-edge laboratory testing to identify genetic and environmental factors that allow us to design a successful nutrition therapy for each patient.