Read full article By K Shiv Shanker@The Hindu Photo Credit: ICRISAT
Study finds daily consumption reduces the blood glucose levels
The word ‘millets’ has become synonymous with healthy food. Recently, it has been found that this food option reduces the risk of Type-2 Diabetes.
A group of researchers, who conducted a study led by the Smart Food Initiative at ICRISAT, explored the effect of millets on diabetes and concluded that the percentages of drop in blood glucose levels after consumption of this food remained for a long time.
The study shows that people with diabetes who consumed millets as part of their daily diet saw their blood glucose levels drop 12-15% (fasting and post-meal), and blood glucose levels went from diabetic to pre-diabetes levels.
The HbA1c (blood glucose bound to haemoglobin) levels lowered on average 17% for pre-diabetic individuals, and the levels went from pre-diabetic to normal status.
The study titled “A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Potential of Millets for Managing and Reducing the Risk of Developing Diabetes Mellitus” was published in the ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’ on Wednesday. It was conducted by researchers from India, Japan, Malawi and United Kingdom. The systemic review included regression analysis to find the effect of millets in managing diabetes.
As per the information from the published study, the authors have collected 80 studies on the effect of millets on various outcomes in non-diabetic, pre-diabetic and diabetic subjects. Of them, 65 were eligible for a meta-analysis involving about 1,000 human subjects. The systemic review was conducted from October 2017 to February 2021.
The researches have found that millets have a low average Glycemic Index (GI) of 52.7, about 30% lower GI than milled rice and refined wheat, and about 14-37 GI points lower compared to maize. Glycemic Index is a scale that gives an idea about the pace at which a food raises the blood sugar levels. It concluded that even after boiling, baking and steaming, millets had lower GI than rice, wheat and maize.
But how long do people have to consume millets to see the results? Lead author of the study and a senior nutrition scientist at ICRISAT Dr. S. Anitha said that a specific time period cannot be mentioned to see the results.“Millets should be part of our staple. The results will not last if people go back to junk food, and refined foods,” she suggested.
Director of National Institute of Nutrition Dr. Hemalatha R. said that diabetes contributed to a very high disease burden from 1990-2016 in India. “Diabetes-related health expenditure was over USD 7 million,” she said.
“The global health crisis of under nutrition and over nutrition coexisting is a sign that our food systems need fixing. Greater diversity both on-farm and on-plate is the key to transforming food systems. On-farm diversity is a risk mitigating strategy for farmers in the face of climate change while on-plate diversity helps counter lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Millets are part of the solution to mitigate the challenges associated with malnutrition, human health, natural resource degradation, and climate change. Trans-disciplinary research involving multiple stakeholders is required to create resilient, sustainable and nutritious food systems,” said Director General ICRISAT Dr. Jacqueline Hughes.