Barley Can Help Control Type 2 Diabetes

A Secret Weapon to Help Control Diabetes: Barley


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

No one wants to learn they have diabetes, yet nearly one in four Americans over the age of 60 receives this news. Many others have pre-diabetes, a condition where their blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. If you fall into either category, an ancient grain can help you control your blood glucose and offer other protection against type 2 diabetes.

Barley, once known as a “food of the Gladiators,” has a unique profile of nutrients that makes it a great defender against diabetes and worth adding to your diet.

Of course, no single food can prevent or cure diabetes. But some foods do offer more protection than others, so it makes sense to include them in your meals as often as possible. And diabetes isn’t the only disease that barley offers protection against, so everyone who cares about their health can benefit by eating more barley.

Barley can help with your battle against diabetes in these ways:

High in Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber has the ability to form a gel when it mixes with liquids in the stomach. The presence of this gel slows down the emptying of the stomach, which prevents carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and raising blood glucose levels. One cup of cooked whole grain barley contains 14 grams (g) total fiber, with 3g soluble and 11g insoluble. A cup of cooked pearl barley contains 6g total fiber, 2g soluble and 4g insoluble.

Low Glycemic Index

People with diabetes experience fluctuations in their blood glucose level after eating carbohydrate-rich foods. Different amounts and types of carbohydrates have a different impact on blood glucose. A measurement known as the glycemic index (GI) ranks foods according to their ability to raise blood glucose. The lower the GI, the less impact it has on blood glucose levels. Barley has a GI of 25, compared to 58 for oatmeal, 55 for brown rice and 45 for pasta.

Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that acts as a co-factor in more than 300 enzymes in the body, including enzymes involved in the production and secretion of insulin and the use of glucose. Studies show magnesium levels are lower in people with diabetes than in the general population. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium for adults is 420 mg for men and 320 for women. One cup of cooked whole grain barley contains 122mg of magnesium while a cup of pearled barley provides 34mg.

Find more information here: Living Healthy with Diabetes Barley Foods Recipes

Are you ready to include more barley in your diet?

Sugar substitutes help make managing diabetes a little easier

The Sweet Truth about Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes

This post was written as a guest blog for on November 6,, 2014. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about diabetes? If you thought of sugar, you’re not alone. The connection between diabetes and excess sugar in the urine was first made by a Greek physician over 2000 years ago. Back when I was studying the disease in college, patients were still expected to test the sugar content of their urine several times a day to see if they were in good control.

We have learned much more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of diabetes in the past 200 years, but its connection to sugar remains strong.

In recognition of American Diabetes Month, I’d like to share the results of some new research on the role of sugar and artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes) in diabetes, to bring you up to date.

Two Types of Diabetes

There are two classifications of diabetes, commonly known as type 1 and type 2. Only 5 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1, and most are diagnosed when they are children or young adults. Their bodies do not produce the insulin they need to convert sugar and starches into energy, so they must take insulin by injection or other means.

People with type 2 diabetes experience high blood glucose (sugar) levels because they don’t make enough insulin or their body does not use it properly. Being overweight, inactive, and having high blood pressure are some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. You may want to take this brief “Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test” offered online for free by the American Diabetes Association.

A combination of lifestyle changes and medications can help keep blood sugar levels within normal limits in people with diabetes.

The Role of Diet in Diabetes

The treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes includes consuming a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. This can be accomplished by following the same eating patterns recommended for us all in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (pdf). People with diabetes do not have to buy special foods or have different foods prepared for them if the meals the rest of their family is eating are well balanced, but need to be more careful managing their carbohydrate intake.

The key to managing one’s weight is to manage caloric intake. Since sugar has calories, the amount eaten must be controlled just like any other source of calories. But since most people really like sweet-tasting foods and beverages made with sugar, it’s easy to consume too much of them. That why using low calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, can be a big help. They let you enjoy the great sugar-like taste, but with few or no calories added.

In fact, numerous studies have found that the use of no-calorie sweeteners (like sucralose), can help people with diabetes in several ways. Some of the benefits of low calorie sweeteners are that they:

  • Can aid in weight loss and maintenance when used in place of sugar
  • Can help limit total carbohydrates in the diet to help regulate blood glucose levels and insulin requirements
  • Can help make reduced calorie and/or carbohydrate diets more palatable which may improve compliance
  • Can help satisfy sweet cravings without increasing hunger or appetite
  • Have no effect on gastric emptying or intestinal sweet receptors
  • Do not contribute to dental caries

Having counseled hundreds of people in my career who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I always felt it was a shame they didn’t know about the healthy diet and lifestyle I was recommending to them before they got the disease, because if they had it’s possible that they could have prevented it. So to commemorate American Diabetes Month, I’d like to recommend to everyone who does not have diabetes to adopt this way of life to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.


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