People who eat a diet high in white bread, white rice and potatoes increase their risk of pancreatic cancer, because this type of diet increases insulin levels, which have been linked to the cancer. Another reason to choose whole wheat: people who eat whole grains decrease their risk of Type II diabetes.

Dr. Charles Fuchs of Harvard looked at the results of a 1989 study of 89,000 nurses who carefully recorded their diets. He found that women who ate lots of refined starches increased their risk of pancreatic cancer by 57%. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers. Fuchs says, “If you took women who were both overweight and sedentary, their risk was 2.5 times higher.”

Researchers from Simmons College, Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston followed almost 43,000 men for 12 years, beginning in 1986. They tracked their intake of whole grains, and asked them periodically about their height, weight and physical activity. 1,197 cases of Type II diabetes were diagnosed in the study group. Researchers found that those who ate the most whole grains had a 42% decreased risk for Type II diabetes, compared to those who ate the least. “We cannot promise that people who eat a lot of whole grains won’t get diabetes, but people who eat a lot of whole grains are less likely to get diabetes,” says dietician Teresa T. Fung.

What’s so special about whole grains? The high fiber content of the whole grains causes the stomach and intestines to empty more slowly, slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. That reduces the insulin response after meals lowers the risk of developing diabetes. Whole grain foods also have more magnesium than refined grain foods, and that has been shown to improve the response of insulin.

If we are what we eat, we need to learn to eat right. To find out what?s on our grocery store shelves, read ?Eating in the Dark? by Kathleen Hart, click here and scroll down.

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