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A new small-scale study has found that the order in which we eat our food could have an important impact on post-meal blood sugar and insulin levels.

A team of researchers, led by Dr Louis Aronne from Weill Cornell Medical College recently investigated whether eating vegetables or protein before carbohydrates leads to lower post-meal glucose levels.

Eleven patients were recruited for the study, all of whom were obese, had type 2 diabetes and took metformin (medication to help control blood sugar levels).  During the study, the researchers tested the effects of eating the same meal but in different orders. In the first week of the study participants ate carbohydrates first followed by protein and fat fifteen minutes later. In the second week they ate the same meal but in reverse order, with the protein, vegetables and fat first and then the carbohydrates fifteen minutes later.

Results showed that glucose levels were much lower at 30, 60 and 120 minute checks when protein and vegetables were eaten before the carbohydrates. Insulin levels were also much lower when food was eaten in this order.

The researchers concluded,

“While we need to do some follow-up work, based on this finding, patients with type 2 might be able to make a simple change to lower their blood sugar throughout the day, decrease how much insulin they need to take, and potentially have a long-lasting, positive impact on their health.”

Alpana P. Shukla et al. Food order has a significant impact on postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Diabetes Care Volume 38, Number 7, e98-e99, doi: 10.2337/dc15-0429

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