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Starchy foods and fiber: reduced rate of digestion and improved carbohydrate metabolism.


The rate of the small intestine amylolytic digestion appears to be a major determinant of the glycemic response. Foods such as legumes appear to be digested less rapidly than many cereal foods although even amongst these large differences in rates of in vitro digestion exist. Studies of diabetes using high fibre, high legume diets have almost uniformly noted improvements in glycemic control and blood lipid profile. However, diets where changes in fibre content have been relatively small, but where the foods were selected on the basis of their slow rates of digestion and flatter glycemic response, have also produced similar beneficial effects. The reasons for the altered rates of digestion include fibre, food form, the nature of the starch, antinutrients etc. Through reducing the rate of digestion of starchy foods post prandially "slow release" starchy foods blunt many gut hormone responses, and prolong FFA and ketone body suppression. In addition increased starch losses to the colon may enhance production of SCFA. All these events may modify carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Many foods which produce these effects are traditional starchy foods and so strengthen current recommendations of the diabetes association, heart foundations and cancer institutes to increase the use of starchy foods through reducing fat intake. Recognition of the nutritional value of these foods is however not new, but was well accepted in the ancient world and is still preserved in traditional cultures where freedom from many of the major non-infective Western diseases is a notable phenomenon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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