Bring on the beans.
In Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr David Jenkins and colleagues report on a study that found consuming about 1 cup (190g) of cooked legumes (beans, chickpeas or lentils) helped people with diabetes manage their blood glucose. It also lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides. The 3-month study with a group of 121 people with type 2 diabetes found that a daily dose of beans had a greater effect on reducing blood pressure as part of a low GI diet compared with a high wheat (insoluble) fibre diet. Even better, after three months, hemoglobin A1c levels had dropped from 7.4% to 6.9% in people eating beans, while it had fallen from 7.2% to 6.9% in those getting extra whole wheat. Even though the drops were not huge says Jenkins, they were impressive in part because the whole-grain comparison diet is a healthy one and in part because people in the study were already on diabetes and blood pressure medications. ‘We hope that this could be the point that allows a person with diabetes to delay medication use,’ he said.
What about wind? The study didn’t find any more gastrointestinal complaints in the legume group, although the comparison group also got a lot of fibre, which could have drowned out a potential effect.
It’s easy to boost your bean intake – home-cooked or canned – simply top some toast with baked beans for a light meal, serve dhal with that curry, add chickpeas to stir fries, red kidney beans to chilli, lentils to a ragu, a 4-bean salad to that barbecue menu, and enrich casseroles and soups with beans and lentils. Here are some flavoursome favourites from The GI News Kitchen to try:
- Shells with pinto beans and feta
- Roasted beetroot and white bean salad with balsamic dressing
- Spicy Moroccan chickpea & lentil soup
- Zingy Italian white bean soup
- Split pea, watercress and goats curd salad
No matter what the advertisements are, or are not, allowed to say, it would be good to know if probiotic yogurt, in addition to its nutritional value, has a beneficial effect on the gut. A parallel series of human (twin) and animal (mice) studies shows that daily consumption of yogurt does not significantly alter the gut’s bacterial makeup but does induce changes in the way bacteria metabolise carbohydrates. Jeffrey Gordon and colleagues took a closer look at the gut microbiomes of seven sets of twins and of mice who consumed a specific brand of yoghurt over a 4-month period. They analysed the bacterial composition and specific gene expression patterns of both human and animal gut microbial communities before, during and after consumption of the yoghurt. Although they found that in both humans and mice, consumption of yogurt did not change the species and gene content of their gut microbial communities, further analysis of gut bacterial gene expression and of substances called metabolites in the urine of mice revealed that yoghurt consumption incited marked changes in many metabolic pathways, especially those related to carbohydrate processing. Although it remains unclear whether eating a yogurt a day will keep the doctor away, the results show that probiotic foods may change our gut microbiomes in subtle, complex ways that warrant further investigation.
Dietitian Glenn Cardwell explains the difference between probiotics and prebiotics.
‘You have probably heard of probiotics, healthy bacteria that help to keep your bowels in good health. They are often associated with yoghurts and supplements. Another term is prebiotics, compounds that are needed as food for the probiotics. Prebiotics naturally occur in bananas, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory and wholegrains like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Asparagus, which is now in season in Australia, is one of the best dietary sources of inulin an important prebiotic that encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which, in turn provides a barrier to gut infection. So support local produce and green your meals with fresh asparagus. Not only will you enjoy the flavour, you’ll be getting plenty of fibre and natural prebiotics to keep you healthy on the inside. Want help cooking up ideas? Check out the Australian Asparagus Council’s free recipes.’
Gut bacteria could cause diabetes.
New research published in Nature shows that the composition of our gut bacteria could play an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Researchers examined the intestinal bacteria of 345 people from China, of which 171 had type 2 diabetes. The team identified clear biological indicators that someday could be used in methods that provide faster and earlier diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The research, also demonstrated that people with type 2 diabetes have a more hostile bacterial environment in their intestines, which can increase resistance to different medication. Similar studies carried out on people with type 2 diabetes in Denmark also discovered a significant imbalance in the function of their intestinal bacteria and composition. ‘It is important to point out that our discovery demonstrates a correlation. The big question now is whether the changes in gut bacteria can affect the development of type 2 diabetes or whether the changes simply reflect that the person is suffering from type 2 diabetes,’ says author Karsten Kristiansen from the University of Copenhagen.
www.eatgoodcarbs.com This website is dietitian Johanna Burani’s personal invitation to her virtual office. ‘Come in anytime. No appointment needed!’ she says. ‘By creating this blog, I plan on explaining how and why low glycemic good carbs prevent blood sugar highs and lows; help regulate blood fats; promote weight loss by suppressing hunger and cravings; increase energy and physical endurance.’ She also provides tips for food shopping and reading food labels for good carb ingredients, how to cook with good carbs, and how to find them when eating out. ‘Since I love to cook and spend a lot of time doing so in my homes in New Jersey and in Friuli (northeastern Italy), I’ll also share with you some of my original low GI recipes,’ says Johanna.
A regular contributor to GI News, Johanna is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years experience in nutritional counseling. She is the author of the best selling Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, has co-authored five other books on glycemic index, and writes for mainstream diabetes magazines and websites as well as for professional publications. Although she loves to write and do research, her first love is her patients. A team player in an endocrine practice in Wayne, New Jersey, Johanna specialises in empowering people to improve their health with practical nutrition information that incorporates the concept of the glycemic index.
Seven ways to calm your upset stomach The medical term for persistent upper abdominal pain or discomfort without an identifiable medical cause is functional dyspepsia (indigestion) according to a new book from Harvard Medical School – The Sensitive Gut. Eating often triggers symptoms of functional dyspepsia. Sometimes the discomfort begins during the meal, other times about half an hour later. It tends to come and go in spurts over a period of about three months. Roughly 25% of the population is affected, and it hits men and women equally. If you suffer from indigestion (and you know it is indigestion and not an ulcer), here’s what they suggest you do to help get some relief.
- Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.
- Eat small portions and don't overeat; try eating smaller, more frequent meals and be sure to chew food slowly and completely.
- Don't lie down within two hours of eating.
- Avoid activities that result in swallowing excess air, such as smoking, eating quickly, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages.
- Reduce your stress. Try relaxation therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, or exercise. An aerobic workout 3–5 times per week can help, but don't exercise right after eating.
- Get enough rest.
- Keep your weight under control.