Those familiar with my work will know that, generally speaking, I am a relative fan of diets that are largely bereft of starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals. A combination of a generally fast-sugar-releasing nature and the fact that they tend to be eaten in quantity gives these foods considerable potential for causes sugar surges in the body. The glut of the hormone insulin secreted in response can, in time, lead to health issues including type 2 diabetes ” a condition characterised by raised levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
Diabetes is known to increase the risk of several complications and conditions including heart disease and stroke (so-called ‘cardiovascular’ conditions). However, it stands to reason that while some individuals may have blood sugar levels which are not elevated enough to allow a diagnosis of diabetes, may still be higher than ideal.
Recently, scientists in the USA and New Zealand decided to test this theory. The analysed data from 52 countries around the World in an effort to see if higher-than-optimum blood sugar levels may be contributing to our disease burden .
Their analysis revealed that in addition to approximately 960,000 deaths due to diabetes, raised blood sugar levels (remember, not high enough to diagnose diabetes) were responsible for about 1.5 million deaths due to heart disease and about 710,000 deaths due to stroke.
What this study appears to show is that many of us may be running blood sugar levels that while not sufficient to diagnose diabetes, may nonetheless be enhancing our risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke. In other words, there may be broad benefits to be had from running generally lower blood sugar levels.
Regular activity or exercise is almost certainly going to help here. However, another generally effective strategy will be a reigning in of foods which contain added sugar as well as starchy staples such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals. It is perhaps no surprise that a recent study I reported in my blog  found that women eating a generally low carb diets were found to have about half the risk suffering from heart disease compared to women eating relatively high carb diets . For more on that story, [click this link].
1. Danaei G, et al. Global and regional mortality from ischaemic heart disease and stroke attributable to higher-than-optimum blood glucose concentration: comparative risk assessment. Lancet;368:1651-1659
2. Halton TL, et al. Low-carbohydrate-diet score and risk of coronary heart disease in women. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006 355:1991-2002