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Barley Fiber Could Help Regulate Blood Sugar Spikes

A new study suggests that barley fiber may help regulate blood sugar spikes and insulin sensitivity. This has implications for individuals with pre-diabetes, as it may slow the deterioration of insulin sensitivity for people at increased risk of diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association estimates there are 79 million people in the US who have pre-diabetes.

The researchers are from Louisville Metabolic & Atherosclerosis Research Research Center, Frestedt Incorporated, Biometrics, ClinData Services, Cargill, and the University of Kentucky.

The findings were published in Nutrition and Metabolism on August 16, 2011.

The study included 50 participants, 44 of whom completed the prospective, randomized, placebo controlled, double blind, parallel group trial. All of the participants had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and were in otherwise good health.

The participants were split into three groups and given a raspberry-flavored drink daily, but the additional contents of the drink differed between the groups. One group consumed a placebo, one group’s drink included 3 grams of barley beta-glucan, and the last group’s drink included 6 grams of barley beta-glucan.

After 12 weeks, both the 3 gram and 6 gram groups both showed an approximately 10% reduction in glucose levels. The 6 gram group also showed 8% lower insulin levels between meals and a reduction in insulin resistance measures from 2.1 to 1.7 after 12 weeks.

In comparison, the placebo group showed 42% increased insulin levels at the conclusion of the study and a 7.5% increase in glucose levels.

Additionally, while no reduction in overall body weight was noted, the researchers did note a 3.9% reduction in fat levels in the hips, buttocks, and thighs.

Nutritional fiber has also been linked with lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Soluble fiber can be found naturally in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. It can also be found in supplement form.

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