UAB Researchers are conducting a Study on Resistant Starch


Diabetic measures her blood glucose levels regularlyMedical researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are interested in seeing if non-digestible starch could be used to reduce the risk of diabetes in women. Participants will be adding more non-digestible starch (known as a resistant starch) to their diets in the form of a tasty cookie-type treat.

This diabetes clinical study was inspired by recent findings showing how the consumption of resistant starches could improve insulin sensitivity in men. As you may remember, if the human body becomes too insulin resistant, then it could develop type 2 diabetes. A greater level of sensitivity to insulin would reduce the risk that a person has of being diagnosed with diabetes.

What can this Resistant Starch Do?

Dr. Barbara Gower, a professor at the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the UAB School of Health Professions, states that, “Although the mechanism through which resistant starch benefits health is not entirely clear, it is possible that resistant starch affects the composition of the microorganisms in the digestive tract. Biochemicals produced by gut microorganisms are thought to have potentially beneficial health effects in humans. It is also possible that resistant starch slows the rate of nutrient absorption. This, in turn, may reduce the stress on the pancreas, resulting in improved ability to secrete insulin and reduce blood sugar.”

Gower was appointed as the head investigator in charge of this new diabetes clinical study on the effects of resistant starch, administered in the form of snack foods. She hopes to see some positive results from this research, mainly that their participants will become more sensitive to insulin.

Enrolling Participants from around Birmingham, AL

For this study, the research team will be enrolling 40 adult women from around the Birmingham area. Over the course of 20 weeks, these clinical trial participants will be undergoing three rounds of four-week treatment periods. Cookies with different levels of resistant starch will be eaten by the participants during each four-week treatment period. Aside from the cookies, the participants will be sticking to their normal everyday diet throughout the study period. The researchers will test the insulin sensitivity of each of the participants at the end of every treatment period.

This diabetes clinical trial is being funded by Ingredion, a major provider of in-demand ingredient “solutions”, and they are also supplying all of the treats that will be given to the study participants. The results of this clinical study are expected to shed some light on the physiological processes that could determine a person’s risk for chronic diseases like heart disease (it’s still American Heart Month!) and diabetes. They are also hoping to gain some insight on whether these resistant starches could be beneficial in the prevention of disease.

The Growing Incidence of Diabetes in America

“Experience shows that most of us just don’t eat a healthy diet on a regular basis,” Gower explained. “We want to see whether this could be an easy way to ‘clean up’ our diet, with something as simple as a starch supplement delivered through a cookie or other snack, and reduce the risk for diabetes.”

Diabetes has become a full blown epidemic in the United States, and with nearly 80 million people now at the prediabetes stage, things need to change. According to the CDC, the incidence of diabetes has grown by nearly 150 percent in the state of Alabama over the last 18 years. Diabetes can be prevented, but you may need to make some significant alterations to your daily routine to truly reduce your risk.



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