White Rice: Its Effect On Diabetes Risk And Hunger

The type of food you eat can affect your blood glucose levels. Glycemic index (GI) is a number that is associated with foods and indicates how that particular food affects the blood glucose levels. A high GI food can raise the glucose levels in the blood than medium or low GI foods.

Short grain white rice belongs to the high GI foods (GI above 70) and studies have demonstrated that eating white rice regularly may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

White rice is a good source of carbohydrates. Let’s examine how it can affect blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates And Blood Sugar Levels

Carbohydrate-Rich Foods Release Sugars In The Blood

When you consume foods rich in carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks digestible carbohydrates into sugars that enter the blood. The following occurs when high-carbohydrate foods are eaten.1

  • When the digestive system breaks the carbohydrates into sugars, the glucose levels present in the blood tend to increase.
  • As the
    blood sugars increase, the pancreas produces insulin – a hormone that helps the cells to absorb the sugars for energy.
  • As the cells absorb the sugars, the glucose levels in the bloodstream drop.
  • When this happens, the pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon. This hormone sends signals to the liver to release some stored sugars.
  • This coordination of the two hormones – insulin and glucagon – ensure that there is a steady supply of blood sugar in the body.

This coordinated carbohydrate metabolism is essential to reduce the risk of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make enough insulin or when it cannot properly make use of the insulin produced in the body.

Let’s examine how white rice can put you at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

White Rice Effects On Diabetes Risk And Hunger

White Rice Increases The Risk Of Diabetes

A research involving data from four different studies was conducted by researchers from the Harvard School Public Health.2 The data received involved about 350, 000 participants. From these data, it was found that 4 percent of the participants developed diabetes and more rice consumption was associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Although the results prove that there is a link between rice consumption and diabetes, more evidence is required to substantiate the statement as other factors like physical activity, obesity, and alcohol can increase diabetes risk.

Another study examined the effects of white rice and brown rice on US men and women.3 The subjects of the study were 39, 765 men and 157, 463 women who were free of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

Results of this study showed that the men and women who had a higher intake of white rice per

week were at a higher risk of developing diabetes than those who had brown rice. The researchers estimated that replacing 50 grams of white rice per day with brown rice reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16 percent. They further estimated that replacing both brown and white rice intake with whole grains significantly reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 36 percent.

It is also believed that foods with a high glycemic index may provide only short-term satiety and may also cause food cravings.4 Low glycemic index foods are associated with a reduction in appetite and food intake for more hours when compared with high GI foods. There is no consistent evidence proving that an increase in the blood glucose levels causes this effect on food intake and satiety.

Some Healthy Tips For Consuming Rice

Replacing White Rice With Brown Rice Is Healthier For Diabetics

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Rice is a staple dish in many countries. Avoiding them completely may not be possible. However, there are ways by which you can prepare and consume rice for better health. Here are a few tips you can follow.

  • Replace white rice with brown rice: White rice has a high glycemic index which means it can cause drastic changes to blood glucose levels. However, brown rice has relatively lower effects on blood sugar. Brown rice is found to be more beneficial and healthier than white rice, especially for diabetics.5
  • Eat less rice to control blood glucose: Limit your rice intake to half a cup. Add vegetables to make you feel full rather than eating too much rice. Replace your rice intake with whole grains like oats whenever possible.
  • Choose Indian-branded Basmati rice: Indian-branded Basmati rice was found to have a glycemic index below 55, which means it has a
    low glycemic index.6 This is a healthy choice for diabetics and, in general, to maintain blood glucose levels.