Can Eating Foods in a Different Order Positively Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

by Theresa Greenwell, International Science
Many people struggle to keep their blood sugar levels within healthy limits, especially those with type 2 diabetes. In order to keep their blood sugar at a manageable level, these individuals often have to avoid certain foods which can be exceptionally challenging.
Due to the fact that obesity and type 2 diabetes is on the rise, researchers regularly look for ways to reduce overall risk levels. This research includes looking at medication, exercise and different ways of eating. As eating habits are often the easiest to manipulate (in theory), this is where many researchers concentrate their energies.
A recent study published in Diabetes Care (July 2015) looked at how the order in which diabetic (type 2) individuals ate certain types of nutrients influenced postprandial blood sugar and insulin levels. During the study, participants were asked to eat a specific meal, on 2 different days, in 2 different ways. On the first day, participants were instructed to eat the carbohydrates first, wait 15 minutes, and then eat the rest of the meal consisting of a protein and vegetables (with fat).  One the second day, the participants ate the protein and vegetables (with fat) first, waited 15 minutes and then ate the carbohydrates.  Before and after eating the meals blood sugar and insulin levels were analyzed.
Results of the blood sugar and insulin tests showed that the order in which the participants ate had a significant impact. When the protein and vegetables were eaten prior to the carbohydrates, blood sugar levels were significant lower at 30, 60 and 120 minutes after the meal. Insulin levels were also significantly reduced.
Though this study was done on a small scale, with only 11 participants, it may have a significant impact in the long run. It would be easier for both clinicians and patients to concentrate on the order in which a meal is eaten, rather than focus on avoiding certain foods altogether. More research in this area will need to be done, but for those struggling to retain healthy blood sugar levels the results of this study are very encouraging.
Shukla, A., et al.  Food order has a significant impact on postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Diabetes Care. 38: 98-99, 2015.