Friday, July 22, 2016

How Is White Rice Linked To Diabetes?

Obesity and sugary drinks have long been accused as the major culprits of diabetes in the West. But several studies indicated that Asians are more predisposed to diabetes than Caucasians, and people do not have to be obese to be at risk. White rice, a staple of most Asian diets, has been identified as the cause.

White rice has high glycemic index (GI), meaning it can cause spikes in sugar levels, and heighten the risk of diabetes. In fact, a bowl of rice has more than twice the carbohydrate content compared to a can of soda drink.

GI is a measure of the extent to which a carbohydrate-containing food raises glucose levels in blood. The higher the GI, the more is the blood sugar produced leading to a sudden spike in glucose levels in the blood. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin and such frequent spikes can lead to diabetes. Foods with lower GI, on the other hand, break down slower and they usually take longer to digest. A GI of 55 is considered low and better while a GI of 70 or more is considered high.

A meta-analysis of 4 major studies involving 352,384 people who were tracked for 4 to 22 years by Harvard School of Public Health reported that each plate of white rice eaten in a day, on a regular basis, raises the risk of diabetes by 11 percent in the overall population. Asians like Chinese had 4 servings a day of cooked rice as compared to Australians and Americans who just ate 5 times a week. The findings were published in March 2012 in the ‘British Medical Journal’.

Diabetes, if left uncontrolled, can lead to various medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and gum disease. Diabetes can harm the nerve, too. As many as 70 percent of diabetics will get this kind of damage.

Nevertheless, there is no need for Asians to fully replace what they eat. Instead, they should turn to healthier varieties of rice like long grain white rice that is better than short grain white rice due to their lower glycemic index levels. Meanwhile, experts also suggest that 20 percent of brown rice could be mixed to white rice, which is sufficient to cut the risk of diabetes by 16 percent.

Since white rice is part of most Asian’s daily diet, majority of them are still unaware of the possible harmful effects of white rice and its potential in increasing the risk of diabetes. Increased awareness is definitely a necessity. Letting them know there is a need to choose healthier options, like eating foods with lower GI and controlling the portion size, may help them reduce the risk of diabetes.

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