Rice is a large component of the typical Asian diet, but health authorities are now saying that this staple food is even worse than sugary drinks. The Singapore health officials have now labeled white rice Public Enemy Number One in the fight against diabetes.
While sugar-laden soda and obesity are the prime causes of diabetes in the western world, Singapore Health Promotion Board chief executive Zee Yoon Kang says that Asians are already more likely to develop diabetes than Caucasians and the starch in white rice may just push them over the edge.
And he’s got the science to back this statement up.
Mr. Zee’s claim is based on a large meta-analysis of studies including more than 350,000 people and spanning some 20 years. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, presented some chilling findings for anyone who eats white rice on a regular basis. It found that eating just one plate of white rice per day raised the risk of diabetes by a shocking 11 percent. And each additional plate upped the risk that much more.
What makes white rice so bad for diabetes?
White rice is almost pure carbohydrate. And it’s a form of carbohydrate that’s broken down very quickly by your body. Once broken down it becomes sugar. This makes your blood sugar spike (Discover the Tasty food to lower your blood sugar) , which tells your pancreas to produce insulin. And the more often this happens, the harder your pancreas has to work. Eventually it can’t keep up and your blood sugar stays high all the time. This is diabetes. ( learn how to cure diabetes naturally).
As incredible as it sounds, a bowl of white rice has more than twice the carbs as a can of sugar-sweetened soda—and all those carbs turn into pure sugar once in your body. A look at something called the “glycemic index” will tell you just how bad white rice is.
The glycemic index of a food measures how much a food raises your blood sugar and how long it takes to do it. The lower the number, the less a food affects your blood sugar. Orange juice, for example, has a glycemic index of 50. A sugar-sweetened soda has a GI of 63. Pure table sugar itself only has a GI of 65. The glycemic index of white rice, on the other hand, is an astonishing 98. In other words, white rice raises your blood sugar more than eating pure sugar.
Asians are already at high risk for diabetes
This is bad news for everyone, but especially for Asians. The same study showed that while the average American or Australian ate just five servings of white rice per week, the average number of servings per day for Asians was four. Since studies show that Asians and those of Asian descent are already at higher risk of diabetes than Europeans, this is especially concerning. For instance, an Indian woman with a healthy BMI below 20 has the same risk of diabetes as a European woman with a BMI of 30, while a Chinese woman with a BMI of 20 or less has the same risk as a European woman with a BMI of 25-29.
Does that mean you should stop eating rice, especially if you’re of Asian descent? Not necessarily. According to Mr. Zee, the answer is to eat healthier versions of the grain. White rice is heavily processed and is easily broken down into sugar. He suggests replacing 20% of your white rice with more natural whole grain brown rice that takes longer to digest. This, he says, can reduce the risk of diabetes by 16%.
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