Does millet reduce blood sugar?
A review article by
Indeed we all know even a little about diabetes and living with diabetes is not that difficult it just requires a disciplined lifestyle.
Mostly people identify diabetes only when blood sugar reaches at very high level. They lack the knowledge of how it damages other organs. Its most significant complication is hardening and narrowing the blood vessels. It leads to further complications like heart disease, stroke, loss of eyesight, etc. The prolonged restricted blood flow can damage the nervous system and kidney functions.
Currently, around 382 million people are suffering from diabetes worldwide. The number may become double by 2040. The mortality rate due to diabetes is 2 million per year.
However, it is proved that following a healthy diet, regular physical activity and regular monitoring can be very helpful to avoid most of the diabetic complications.
What Happens After a Meal for Diabetes Patients?
For diabetes patients, very quickly blood sugar exceeds the normal range immediately after meal. On the other hand, it soon drops below the normal range due to the body’s inability to store the excess glucose for later use. This fluctuating sugar level can cause various health problems, like dizziness, extreme hunger, fatigue, trembling hands, frequent urination, etc.
Let’s look at Our Dietary Intake
All of the food we eat is made of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Among them, carbohydrates break into glucose. They are found in three types: fibre, starch, and sugar.
Fiber: It is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. It gives a feeling of satiety and reduces cholesterol and sugar.
Sugar: It is naturally found in fruits and milk or is artificially added to the food. Added sugars can significantly increase the blood sugar.
Starch: Mostly they are found in whole grains, pasta, white and brown rice, breads, lentils, peas, beans, corn, etc. Easily digestible starch increases the sugar level. But the reverse is true for slowly digestible and resistant starch.
What is the best diet for Diabetes Patient?
Diet has a great influence on the quality of life for diabetic, pre-diabetic patients, and healthy people who are at risk of diabetes. It directly affects the blood glucose level.
A diabetic person must consider what, how much and when he/she is eating. Daily carbohydrate intake should not exceed the required amount. But finding a standard dietary intervention for diabetes is difficult because of the different eating habits in different countries. Even if we consider only India, eating habit varies a lot from north to south in India.
A mostly diabetic diet includes plenty of fruits, green vegetables, grains and proteins. But it is tough to maintain all the dietary requirements in terms of calories, carbohydrates, portion size and taste of the food.
These are called nutri-cereals as they are a source of enough macro- and micronutrients, protein, dietary fiber, lipids, phytochemicals and slowly digestible starch, and resistant starch.
Our ancestors were engaged in highly laborious work and these traditional grains helped them to sustain healthy lives.
A variety types of millets are produced in India and other parts of the world. These are finger millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, little millet, proso millet, Kodo millet, fonio millet, teff, brown top millet, Job’s tears, and guinea millet. Alone India shares 40.62% of total millet production in the world.
Role of Millets in Diabetes Management
Diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease have taken the form of epidemics due to today’s sedentary lifestyle, habit of eating processed food and many other issues associated with urbanization. In this scenario, millets are making a strong comeback because of their high potential to maintain good health.
Their excellent nutritional profile takes care of many health issues, like diabetes, heart diseases, cholesterol, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems etc.
How Millets help to Control Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetes patients
- The presence of a good amount of fibre, slowly digestible starch and resistant starch causes a slow release of glucose. Thus it does not allow a sudden increase of blood sugar after a meal and gives a feeling of fullness.
- Kodo millet, little millet, barnyard millet, and foxtail millet are source of the highest resistant starches (RS). RS does not get digested in the intestine and reaches colon. There its interaction with gut bacteria produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs play very important roles in managing blood sugar level:
- They enhance the absorption of glucose in muscle and adipose tissue.
- They can stimulate the secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) enzyme. It plays important roles in increasing insulin secretion and reduces blood sugar.
How Diabetics Should Include Millets in Their Diet?
All millets are good for diabetes. But occasional consumption of millets does not give any result for diabetes control. They should consume it regularly over a long period of time.
For better results, millet should be consumed two times a day in the form of porridge, khichdi, dhosa, idly, upma etc.
Nowadays, millet cookies, biscuits, murukku, and semiya are also available. They can be chosen as good alternatives of normal biscuits and snacks.
- Marín-Peñalver JJ, Martín-Timón I, Sevillano-Collantes C, Del Cañizo-Gómez FJ. Update on the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. World J Diabetes. 2016 Sep 15;7(17):354-95.
- https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetesKam J, Puranik S, Yadav R, Manwaring HR, Pierre S, Srivastava RK, Yadav RS. Dietary Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: How Millet Comes to Help. Front Plant Sci. 2016 Sep 27;7:1454.
- Gowda NAN, Siliveru K, Prasad PVV, Bhatt Y, Netravati BP, Gurikar C. Modern Processing of Indian Millets: A Perspective on Changes in Nutritional Properties. Foods. 2022 Feb 9;11(4):499.