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Team led by expert scientist at Australian agency enhances nutritional quality and showed how new wheat variety can help to fight diabetes.
A new variety of fiber-rich wheat that has the potential to help fight Type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer has been developed by a team led by an Indian scientist working for the Australian national research agency. The discovery is considered significant for India, which is often labeled the ‘diabetic capital of the world,’ with over 50 million people suffering from the disease.
Regina Ahmed, principal research scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), told The Hindu in an email interview that the new wheat variety was rich in amylose. The amount of defiant starch, a type of dietary fiber, in products made from high-amylose wheat was ten times more than those made from regular corn. Resistant starch is known to increase digestive health, protect against the genetic damage that precedes bowel cancer, and help combat Type 2 diabetes. Usually, food is digested in the small intestine. This starch reaches the large intestine and disintegrates there, which reduces the speed with which glucose enters the blood, said Dr. Ahmed, a native of Changanassery in Kerala’s Kottayam district.
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Type 2 diabetes rife
“There is a rapid spread of lifestyle diseases across the world. Type 2 diabetes is now a worldwide health challenge with the mounting incidence in most nations, including developing countries like India,” she said. Increased prevalence of the disease takes a toll on life and healthcare costs, too. Imparting nutritional benefits to staple foods like wheat would have a meaningful impact on public health, without the need for making significant dietary changes, Dr. Regina said.
She added, “Asia is one of the leading producers of wheat and almost all the wheat that Asia produces is consumed domestically. This means that wheat with enhanced nutritional quality can serve as an excellent vehicle for delivery of health benefits to consumers.”