In previous centuries, a disease appeared in far East, called beriberi. Vitaminology was in its infancy, yet it was found that consumption of “polished” rice produced the disease, often fatal through incipient congestive heart failure.
Eating unpolished rice as a staple, a grain with the outer husk intact, prevented the dread disease.
Researchers hypothesized a factor was contained rice husk, which, when removed, left a deficiency of a factor or “vitamin–vital essence.” The factor made an essential part of metabolic pathways–energy cycles–which supported cardiac muscle function and other vital organs.
They reasoned beriberi was pronounced in Asian populations for their dependence on rice for daily energy needs. Unpolished rice replaced polished and the disease regressed. The chemical vital force was discovered, and called vitamin B, because vitamin A had been earlier discovered.
Today we know it as thiamine, or vitamin B1. Beriberi has since occurred sporadically, i.e. that seen in U.S. troops imprisoned by Japanese forces in WWII, subsisting on polished rice.
In the Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010;170(11):961-969, researchers from Harvard Medical School reported substitution of whole grains, including brown rice for white, switching carbohydrate intake to whole grains, is recommended to help control and prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus.
People who consumed 5 or more servings of white rice per week had a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to a group who consumed less that 1 serving of white rice per month.
Persons with high brown rice consumption–over 2 servings per week–had significantly less diabetes, than those eating less than 1 serving of brown rice per month.
Nutritional studies reveal that white rice, like polished rice, has a high glycemic index, readily releasing glucose on digestion into the bloodstream. Glucose is dispatched by insulin flowing from the beta cells of the pancreas.
Glucose is an energy molecule–quick energy, and the body covets it. Insulin is a storage hormone, and leads the glucose to power centers, such as skeletal muscle, brain, liver, and other dynamos. Any left over is brought and stored in fat cells, also muscle, liver and other tissues, where it is stored as glycogen.
Prudent use of exercise draws a judicious amount of insulin, distributing glucose to muscles, brain, liver, and other viscera as needed for an exercise session. Remnant glucose is stored as glycogen in skeletal muscle and liver, and as triglycerides in fat depots.
If the body is inert, obese, the beta cell response to a glycemic surge from white rice will be sluggish, a late release of insulin by the pancreas, reacting to high blood glucose levels.
Fat-stuffed lipocytes have diluted surface insulin receptors, resisting glucose uptake (insulin resistance), causing excess glucose to flood urinary outflow (polyuria). Skeletal muscles are starved for energy (weakness); loss of body water causes excessive thirst, and energy starvation results in hunger and weight loss. This state is, by definition, type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Ready sources of simple sugars promote fat deposit storage of these molecules as fat. A common query is, “Can eating too much sugar give you diabetes?”
Type 1 or juvenile diabetes is produced by the absence of insulin secretion by the pancreas. Today, surrounded by people eating large amounts of foods with a high glycemic index, drinking high fructose beverages, not exercising, gain weight, to BMIs over 25, 30, 40 and beyond. Obesity is spreading as an epidemic, and type 2 diabetes parallels obesity.
Proper nutrition and exercise, applied on a daily basis, should produce a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. A loss of 2% to 5% of the starting weight will reduce insulin resistance, fasting insulin levels and reduce Hemoglobin A1c.
Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010;170(11):961-969
Cecil–Textbook of Internal Medicine. 1979:pp.1688-1689.