Soft Food and Insulin Resistance
Does the texture of the food you eat affect your insulin resistance? A recent study suggests that it does.
These researchers fed male rats soft pellets or regular pellets for 14 weeks and then examined a number of factors, including insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.
The authors said it had previously been shown that feeding rats with soft pellets or through a tube caused increases in body weight. In this study, there was no significant difference in the weights of the rats fed soft or regular pellets.
But the rats fed the soft pellets showed insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Could this apply to humans as well?
This is only one study, and in rats. However, I think this idea is suggestive. Highly processed food is usually softer. Think of white bread vs more primitive whole-grain bread with chunks of wheat that take longer to chew and digest.
I once knew a man who said he didn’t like steak. I asked why, and he said because it took too long to chew. He preferred softer food that you could eat more quickly. And yes, he was obese.
It’s logical that highly processed, soft food could contribute to obesity. The softer the food, the faster you can eat it, and the faster you eat, the more likely you are to eat too much before your body tells you that you’re full. And now there’s a hint that such foods may contribute to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance as well, eventually leading to diabetes.
This study also showed that the soft food left the stomach sooner than the regular food, resulting in higher glucose and insulin peaks. And even though there were no significant differences in the weight of the rats, the ones getting soft food added more fat. High insulin levels are known to stimulate fat synthesis.
Of course, we’re not rats. However, it certainly wouldn’t cause harm to choose the foods that take the longest to chew and would also take the longest to digest.
This is more evidence that we’re better off eating real food, as unprocessed as possible. Manufacturers usually provide food that is softer and smoother than the ingredients it is made from, because that’s what consumers want.
I also like soft, smooth food. But if it’s going to contribute to my insulin resistance, I think I can turn it down.
Gretchen wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.