Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to adequately use consumed sugars or glucose. This occurs when body becomes less sensitive to insulin or is unable to produce sufficient amounts of this hormone. Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, blindness and other conditions. Diet is an important factor in treating and controlling diabetes; fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal help to balance blood sugar levels and reduce diabetic complications.
The glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels and is an important factor in controlling diabetes. DiabetesNet.com advises that foods such as oats have a lower glycemic index and help to balance glucose levels for better diabetes control and prevention of related complications. Oatmeal has this effect because it increases the viscosity or thickness of the contents of the stomach, slowing digestion and prolonging the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This also gives the body a stable, long-term source of energy.
Oatmeal Lowers Cholesterol
People with diabetes also have an increased risk of high cholesterol. Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that lowers blood cholesterol. This occurs because soluble fiber from oats and other fiber-rich foods forms a gel-like substance in the small intestines, helping to catch unhealthy cholesterol from foods and preventing it from being absorbed by the body. However, high density lipid or HDL cholesterol, which is a healthy variety, is not trapped.
Oatmeal and Heart Health
Oatmeal is also a heart-healthy food, which is particularly important for diabetics who are more prone to heart disease than those without diabetes. In addition to its cholesterol-lowering properties, the American Diabetes Association notes that oatmeal is also a good source of potassium. This helps to reduce hypertension or high blood pressure and maintain heart and blood vessel health, preventing cardiovascular disease.
Oatmeal Helps Reduce Insulin Dosages
Nutrition is an essential part of diabetes treatment and control and can help reduce the need for treatment with medications and insulin. According to a 2008 study published in the journal "Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes," diabetic patients who maintained a diabetes diet in a hospital setting were able to control their blood glucose levels at approximately 158 mg/dl. Adding oatmeal to their diet further decreased their average blood glucose levels to approximately 118 mg/dl. The researched further reported that this nutritional approach to diabetes resulted in almost a 40 percent reduction in the insulin dosage necessary to achieve these controlled blood glucose levels.