Fight modern day diseases with this ancient crop

Over the years, millets have proven to be a miracle for patients ailing with progressive and chronic diabetes.

Published: 30th November 2017 02:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2017 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Over the years, millets have proven to be a miracle for patients ailing with progressive and chronic diabetes. This whole grain releases lesser percentage of glucose into the system and over a span of time lowers risk of developing this condition.

BENGALURU: It’s a little less known fact that in Karnataka, organic and millet farmers have been organised into 14 regional federations and they produce a wide variety of crops. The government will be hosting an international organic and millets fair from January 19 to 21, 2018 at Bengaluru Palace.

Diabetes and Millets
India’s position in the world graph has not gone down a bit when it comes to it being the “diabetic capital”of the world and that is a major concern. In the year 2000, the total number of diabetics in India stood at 31.7 million and is expected to rise by more than 100 per cent in the year 2030.  Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the capacity of your body is impaired to respond to the hormone insulin created in the body thereby, resulting in an elevated blood sugar level. The plausible solution to battle this is a healthy life style and it’s no surprise that dieticians and doctors advise you to include millets in your diet.

Why Millet ?
Millets are one such food crop, rich in phytonutrients, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Over the years, millets have proven to be a miracle for patients ailing with the progressive, chronic disease, diabetes. They are also known to posses numerous other nutritional and health benefits creating a huge surge in the demand for a variety of millets. This whole grain releases lesser percentage of glucose into the system and over a span of time lowers the risk of diabetes. Millets are nutritional powerhouses high in proteins, dietary fiber, B complex vitamins, essential amino acids, folic acid and vitamin E. They are particularly high in minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Miracle worker
The diabetes preventing effect of millets is primarily attributed to high fibre content. The beneficial effect of soluble dietary fibre may be mediated through slower digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This leads to reduced demand for insulin. Insoluble dietary fibre tends to shorten intestinal transit time, which in turn permits lesser time for carbohydrates to be absorbed. The complex carbohydrates present in millets break down to simple sugars at a slow rate, and get absorbed at a slower rate, allowing slow rise in blood glucose.
If a diabetic person decides to include millets in the diet, it is very pertinent to know how much quantity and in what form they should eat it. Making a fine flour out of millets to consume would not be of much help to control the blood sugar level. To get the full benefits, it is always healthy to consume them in its natural form. Heavy calories along with millets should be avoided.

How much to take?
Millets have to be used based on one’s individual body mass index and their level of physical activity to control the diabetes. At the same time, matching it with appropriate daal is a prerequisite to maintain the carbohydrate load in each meal.
Introduction of millets in diet should be done judiciously as we, Indians, predominantly consume wheat and rice. First the millets can partially replace the wheat and rice in our food preparations and once an individual is accustomed to the millet it can be completely replace rice and wheat. It is better to mix raagi with black gram and urad dal to make a dosa so that the glycemic index of the diet is balanced. Fermentation of millets will not help the diabetic patients to control the blood sugar level.
Different crops have different glycemic index. For example, Ragi has high glycemic index but as they have substantial amount of fibre, their overall glycemic index load in a particular item will be in a moderate range and that can be cleverly manipulated to control the blood sugar level.

Besides diabetes
Apart from reducing the risk of diabetes, their high dietary fibre provides hunger satisfaction and helps reduce obesity. They also help reduce the risk of cardio vascular diseases, and are beneficial in the treating and prevention of gallstones, stomach ulcers and relives constipation. As millets are nutritionally dense, they reduce anaemia, liver disorders and asthma. Its hypo allergic properties help prevent allergic reactions. Being rich in anti oxidants, millets are known to reduce oxidative stress and reduce the risk of cancer. Millets also aid in reducing the occurrence of hyper tension.

The author is an HOD of Home Science -specialised in food science and nutrition at Mount Carmel College

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