Food Order and Glucose Control: An Interesting Connection

It may turn out that avoiding postprandial (after meal) blood sugar highs can be achieved by eating foods in a particular order.

Most current nutritional counseling for type 2 diabetes focuses on “how much” and “what to avoid.” This dietary approach effectively keeps blood glucose in check for many individuals.

A different approach was tried in a small pilot study at Weill Cornell Medical College. Instead of focusing on what to eat, the researchers there focused on when to eat carbohydrates during meals.

The Power of When

In this study, eleven overweight or obese men and women with metformin-treated type 2 diabetes were fed the same typical Western meal on 2 different days, a week apart:

  • Week 1: Following a 12 hour overnight fast, the participants were first served ciabatta bread and orange juice (carbohydrates); 15 minutes later they enjoyed a skinless grilled chicken breast, a lettuce/tomato salad with vinaigrette, and steamed broccoli with butter (protein and veggies).
  • Week 2: Following a 12 hour overnight fast the participants ate the identical meal in reverse. The protein and veggies were consumed first, and 15 minutes later the carbs were served.

Significant Results

Post-meal monitoring at 30, 60, and 120 minutes revealed that eating the proteins and vegetables before the carbohydrates decreased mean glucose levels by 28.6%, 36.7%, and 16.8%. The participant’s insulin was also positively affected.

“The magnitude of the effect of food order on glucose levels is comparable to that observed with pharmacological agents that...target postprandial glucose,” concluded the study’s authors. However, they caution that more studies with longer follow-up periods are needed to determine food order’s full impact on blood sugar control, and the mechanisms behind it.

Since most of us eat veggies, proteins, and carbs together, effectively turning them into a digestive casserole, it would be interesting to know how that would compare to a protein-and-vegetables-first meal. Maybe the researchers will add an all-at-once plate the next time around.

Source: Diabetes Care Journal
Photo credit: mosespreciado

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