Wholegrain diet, diabetes to be studied

Aysu Shahin
Aysu Shahin
It may feel way too early to be making New Year’s resolutions, but if you have type 2 diabetes and you want to help others eat better, this might be for you.

The University of Otago is recruiting people with type 2 diabetes, to take part in a study next year which aims to determine if eating less processed or more processed wholegrain foods, helps improve blood glucose control.

The Whole Grains for Health Study, run by PhD candidate and dietitian Aysu Shahin and Otago Medical School Heart Foundation senior research fellow Dr Andrew Reynolds, builds on earlier research showing the benefits of wholegrain foods.

"We already know that eating whole grains, like wholemeal bread, is healthier than eating refined grains, like white bread," Ms Shahin said.

"What we don’t know is if milling whole grains — breaking them into smaller particles — reduces the benefits associated with their intake."

Previous research by Dr Reynolds suggested that eating less processed whole grains for two weeks could improve blood glucose control for adults with type 2 diabetes.

He said the group wanted to extend that research to investigate the benefits of this approach over a 12-week period.

"I’m really pleased about this new trial as it builds on some proof-of-concept studies and smaller trials we started back in 2017.

"It’s fantastic to see that our idea has evolved into a full clinical trial on whole grains."

He said they would be seeking 160 people with type 2 diabetes, living in Southland, Otago or Canterbury, to join the study over the next year.

Ms Shahin said the participants would receive free fortnightly deliveries of either less-processed wholegrain foods (bread, rice, oats, bulgur) or more processed wholegrain foods (bread, pasta, couscous, oat flour) for 12 weeks.

They would be asked to replace the grain foods they normally eat with the grain foods provided.

As part of the study, blood samples and diet diaries would give a better understanding of how wholegrain processing impacts blood sugar levels.

"A lot of people are talking about ultra-processed foods, and the observational evidence looks like they are bad for us, but there is really very little practical evidence underpinning these observations.

People wanting to participate should contact the university’s department of medicine.