Whole Grains and Type 2 Diabetes Progression

More Evidence Supports Health Benefits

A higher intake of whole grains may be associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a Wheat ears in the hands.Harvest conceptstudy published online.

A team led by researchers at Karolinska University in Stockholm, Sweden, set out to confirm previous findings that whole grains can help halt the development of prediabetes and diabetes in adults. Their study, “Consumption of whole grain reduces risk of deteriorating glucose tolerance, including progression to prediabetes,” was published online ahead of print in December 2012. It appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  

The researchers conducted a prospective, population-based study and looked at data on 5,477 patients (3,180 women and 2,297 men) between the ages of 35 and 56. They examined the patients’ intake of whole grain and compared this to their 8-10 year incidence of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes was defined as having impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or a combination of these two factors.

The results of the study showed that patients who had a higher whole grain intake had a lower risk of deterioration in glucose tolerance—more whole grains was associated with a 34% lower risk. This finding held after the researchers controlled for patients’ age, body mass index, level of physical activity, education, smoking behavior, blood pressure, and family history of diabetes.

Additionally, the researchers found that whole grain intake was inversely associated with insulin resistance. However, the effects of whole-grain intake were not found in men who had diabetogenic polymorphisms of the TCF7L2 gene.

The researchers conclude that their results support previous findings that patients who ingest more whole grains have a lower risk of deteriorating glucose tolerance, and hence a lower risk of developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. However, in men, this effect was modified by the presence of the TCF7L2 gene.

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