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Barley May Help Improve Blood Sugar Levels & Reduce Appetite

Barley May Help Improve Blood Sugar Levels & Reduce Appetite

A recent study from Lund University Sweden showed barley kernels can rapidly improve health.

02.09.16



“It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibers can—in a short period of time—generate such remarkable health benefits,” said Anne Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Food for Health Science Centre and one of the researchers behind the study.

The study was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels for three days—at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Approximately 11-14 hours after their final meal of the day participants were examined for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that the participants’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control. The effects arise when the special mixture of dietary fibers in barley kernel reaches the gut, stimulating the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones.

“After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Ms. Nilsson.

In a previous related study conducted with a team from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden researchers also found that dietary fibers from barley kernel generate an increase of the gut bacteria Prevotella copri, which have a direct regulatory effect on blood sugar levels and help decrease the proportion of a type of gut bacteria that is considered unhealthy.

The effects from barley kernel are influenced by the composition of the individual’s gut microbiota, meaning people with low concentrations of the Prevotella copri bacteria experienced less effect from their intake of barley products. Eating more barley could, however, help stimulate growth of the bacteria.

The results are timely, as rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have significantly increased in the past few years. Researchers hope that more knowledge about the impact of specific dietary fibers on people’s health will hopefully result in stores keeping more food products with healthy properties such as barley kernels in stores, researchers hope. The ambition is also to get more people to use barley in meals for example in salads, soups, stews, or as an alternative to rice or potatoes.

The study was carried out and funded through the Antidiabetic Food Centre (AFC). AFC is a VINN EXCELLENCE Centre in Research and Innovation at Lund University with focus on the prevention of type 2 diabetes through innovative food concepts.
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