Try the porridge cure, says US doctors by Oliver Gillie Medical correspondent.

Porridge is the new miracle food, American doctors have found that it helps to regulate blood sugar and fats. So porridge is now being recommended for the treatment and prevention of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Oats contain a gummy fibre material – evident when porridge is made – which reduces blood cholesterol by a third as well as reducing blood sugar and fats. Oat bran is particularly rich in this fibre whereas wheat bran is rich in cellulose and contains comparatively little of the gum. Oat bran is therefore superior to wheat bran as a health food. Muesli, which has oats for its base, has long been recommended by health food pundits, but until now scientific evidence for the benefits of oats has been lacking.

Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky College of medicine says of porridge: ” This is first time anyone has demonstrated that a particular food can lower blood cholesterol. It is not uncommon for someone to come into our hospital with a
blood cholesterol of 300 – well in the danger range – and go out with a blood cholesterol of 195, which is relatively safe.” Anderson has spent the last 10 years trying to prove that the commonly prescribed diet for diabetics is wrong. Generally diabetics are advised to have a high fat diet and avoid carbohydrate. He advises a diet high in starchy carbohydrates but low in sugar (soluble carbohydrate) . When British doctors started to recommended a high fibre diet particularly wheat bran, Anderson tried it on his patients. They improved, but Anderson found it was not wheat bran but beans, which were responsible. Beans, particularly haricot and kidney, contain complex carbohydrate which acts in a similar way to oat gum. He then began to test as many foods as he could and found that oats were best of all.

Anderson has now written a book about diabetes (Published by Martin Dunitz at L2.50) in which he explains his method. He says:
” With a rigorous diet, 60 percent of lean diabetics and 90 percent of obese diabetics can come off insulin and drugs. And on this diet, they are less likely to suffer the common complications of diabetes. ”

Anderson says that when gummy fibre from oats reaches the colon, it is fermented by bacteria, which produce fatty acids. these
acids are absorbed into the blood and have the effect of shutting down the production of sugar (glucose) by the body from starch and fat. This lowers and stabilises blood sugar, which is especially beneficial for the diabetics. Porridge eating has fallen sharply in Scotland – which is now one of the most unhealthy countries in the western world, vying with Finland for the heart disease record: ” I guess my family came from Scotland originally but we have no record of it. ” says Anderson. Scots or not, he and his family are back on porridge.

Porridge the new avatar

Many people do not like porridge. So to improve the taste one can add raisins, sultanas, honey, cinnamon powder, or cardamom powder and even cocoa powder to change the taste to one’s liking.


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