Should people who have diabetes avoid all grains and grain food?

This is a question we struggle with. Popular media has villainized all grains. Let’s start by identifying the difference between refined grains and whole grains. Whole grains are just as they sound. The anatomy of a whole grain includes the bran (outer layer of the grain), the germ (contains B vitamins, vitamin E, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats) and endosperm (germ’s food source in the form of carbohydrates with a bit of protein). 

When a food manufacturer strips away the germ and bran, we are left with a refined grain. Examples include white rice, flour, pasta, etc.

According to results of the Nurses’ Health Study, whole grains included in a balanced diet have been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes. The bran and fiber in whole grains slow the digestion of starch into blood sugar. Whole grain foods lead to smaller increases in blood sugars as compared to refined grains.

Examples of whole grains include quinoa, buckwheat, barley, brown rice, millet, bulgur, oats, rye, farro, spelt and wheatberries.