Barley has more beta glucan fiber than any other grain, and it has repeatedly established positive clinical results with regard to diabetes control. It not only boosts immune function by supporting macrophages and neutrophils, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helps control obesity, but also attenuates postprandial glucose levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and promotes a feeling of satiety.
A Canadian research article points out that beta glucan fiber creates highly viscous solutions in the upper digestive tract, fermentation in the colon, and subsequent prebiotic effects by selective metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract. This biochemical cascade results in laxation, significant improvements in both serum lipid levels and postprandial glycemia, and increased satiety.
Researchers argue that the dosage, food form, interaction with satiety, and molecular weight of beta glucan determine the way in which glycemia is regulated in patients with diabetes. For example, a study showed that when individuals with abnormal cholesterol levels ingested five grams per day of beta glucan in beverage form, their glucose and insulin responses improved significantly after five weeks. On the other hand, incorporation of beta glucan in pasta did not significantly reduce postprandial glucose levels.