Eating Barley for Diabetes Management

Free photos of Barley field

Food intake has a vital part to play in controlling both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is necessary to have a balanced diet in order to turn around prediabetes, a problem that is becoming more and more common across the world.

Nutrition is a complex subject. The abundance of data that one is subjected to on the internet, through social media, mates, and medical professionals can often bring about feelings of anxiety and perplexity.

Carbohydrate intake draws a lot of attention when it comes to controlling diabetes. Carbohydrates such as grains could be eliminated from the diet of someone with diabetes.

It’s possible to manage your diabetes without eliminating grains from your diet. It has been demonstrated that certain grains can be beneficial to overall health and blood sugar levels.

What Is Barley?

Barley belongs to the grass family and is a grain used for cereals. It has a rubbery consistency and is recognized for its delicate hazelnut flavor.

Barley can be whole grain or pearled. Barley, that is not processed. Keeping only the outer hull removed is the most beneficial for your health. Whole-grain barley frequently referred to as barley groats, is packed with dietary fiber, providing 32 grams per dry cup.

Pearled barley has the protective outer layer taken off, and some or all of the bran layer is scrapped away through polishing. The bran, which is part of the grain, is full of B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Pearled barley is lower in nutrients than hulled barley.


Hulled barley contains a large amount of protein, 23 grams per cup of dry grain.


One cup of uncooked barley supplies 36% of the daily requirement of iron. Iron plays an important role in the formation of proteins in the red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to all of the cells throughout the body. Not having enough iron can lead to anemia, which in turn causes tiredness and lack of energy.


Approximately 60% of your daily recommended value of magnesium can be obtained by consuming a single cup of uncooked barley. Magnesium helps promote muscle relaxation.

Consuming ample amounts of magnesium appears to have a positive effect on glucose levels and the body’s responsiveness to insulin—conversely, a lack of magnesium leads to an increased chance of getting diabetes.

B vitamins

Barley provides considerable amounts of B vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin. B vitamins assist in the body’s ability to utilize the energy from food intake.

Barley is capable of being employed in the same manner as other grains, such as rice. They are able to stay fresh in soups and stews and substitute for oatmeal as a morning meal.

Rather than eating whole barley, why not give barley water a go? To make the barley water, one needs to cook barley by boiling it in water and then drink the resulting liquid.

It appears that barley water holds the same advantages as eating the whole grain itself because many nutrients leach out while the product is heated. However, no research has been conducted to determine the effects of barley water specifically.

Be cautious of pre-made barley water that has extra sugar for taste since sweet drinks can cause big changes in your blood sugar levels.

Can Barley Help Manage Diabetes?

Fiber is found in plant-based foods such as barley. Eating plant-based meals is linked to increased well-being and a decrease in the chances of developing potentially serious illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Barley is a carbohydrate. When you eat carbohydrates, they transform into glucose, which is a type of nutrient. That means that barley raises your blood sugar.

Nevertheless, a considerable amount of barley’s carbohydrate content consists of fiber. Fiber isn’t digestible, meaning it won’t raise blood sugar.

Picking carbohydrates that are high in fiber is one way to help keep blood sugar levels in check for those with diabetes.

It looks to be sound to use barley to regulate diabetes, which is supported by multiple studies; we will investigate these research studies shortly.

How It Works

When you ingest foods that are rich in carbohydrates (including fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, and milk), these items are transformed into glucose in your bloodstream. If your body lacks or is not receptive to enough insulin secretion, then this can lead to an increase in your blood sugar concentration after eating.

Consuming high-fiber carbs results in a decreased sugar level in the bloodstream since the fiber is not absorbed by the body. Fiber contributes to keeping the gut healthy and aiding regular bowel movements. Fiber can likewise act as a prebiotic, providing sustenance for beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Meals that are rich in fiber take more time to pass through your digestive tract compared to those that contain little or no fiber. Eating food such as barley will make you feel satisfied and keep you full for a longer time.

Barley fiber works to minimize the speed of glucose entering your bloodstream. Ingesting foods like barley can potentially help guard against sudden increases in blood sugar levels after eating.

Consuming foods that are full of fiber is a way to encourage shedding pounds. A large percentage of individuals with type 2 diabetes (the most prevalent type of diabetes) are described as being either overweight or obese. Dropping a portion of body mass that is equivalent to 5-10% can assist in stabilizing blood sugar levels. The ability of high-fiber foods to increase feelings of fullness may help control the desire for snacks in between meals resulting from being hungry.

Fiber helps reduce the glycemic index of a food. The glycemic index ranks food according to how much it increases blood sugar levels, with 0-100 being the scale.

Foods are normally categorized as having a low glycemic index (with a score of 55 or lower), a medium glycemic index (with a score of 56 to 69), or a high glycemic index (with a score of 70 or higher) based on their numerical values. Blood sugar levels will increase very gradually if the glycemic index is low. On this rating system, the glycemic index of pure glucose is 100.

A Note on Net Carbohydrates

You probably know the concept of “net carbs” or “net carbohydrates”, especially if you track your carbohydrate intake. The amount of carbohydrates after the dietary fiber has been taken into account is the net carbohydrate amount. What should be taken into account is the overall carb figure that is obtained, as this has an impact on blood sugar levels.

The total amount of carbohydrates is decreased to account for dietary fiber since dietary fiber does not cause an increase in blood sugar levels since it cannot be broken down during digestion. Eating more high-fiber foods is an effective way to reduce total carbohydrate amounts, thereby assisting in keeping blood sugar levels in check.

For instance, if the total carbohydrates in a food consumed are 15 grams, but 7 of these come from fiber, then you are left with a net carbohydrate count of 8 grams.

Health Benefits Of Barley

Might Benefit Blood Glucose Control

Barley could potentially be useful in reducing insulin and blood sugar levels. This might lower one’s risk of diabetes. Barley which is full of grains, has a considerable quantity of fiber, among them the dissolvable fiber beta-glucan. It postpones the uptake of sugar by bonding with it in the digestive system.

Research focused on overweight women who took in barley and oats along with glucose showed that both grains lowered the blood glucose and insulin levels. Barley was clearly much more effective in reducing levels than oats, by 60 to 65% compared to only 30 to 35%.

A further experiment conducted on 10 healthy males showed that those who ate barley at dinner experienced 30% more sensitivity to insulin before breakfast the next day in comparison to those who had refined wheat bread with their meal.

It has been determined that consuming certain breakfast cereals made solely out of barley can help to lower the risk of developing diabetes.

Might act as a Digestive-Aid

Uncooked hulled barley has around 17 grams of fiber in ½ a cup (100 g). This equates to 70% of the Recommended Daily Intake for females, and 45% for males. The bulk of fecal matter is constituted of dietary fiber, allowing it a smooth passageway along the digestive tract.

Barley might aid in relieving constipation. A study looking at people who struggle with chronic constipation showed that consuming 9 g of a barley sprout supplement every day for ten days, then increasing the dosage to double for another 10 days, increased the amount and frequency of bowel movements.

Research has also shown that consuming barley may help alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disorder. In a separate study, people battling moderate cases of ulcerative colitis felt better after consuming 20-30 g of a barley sprout supplement.

Barley aids in the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in one’s gastrointestinal system. Barley’s beta-glucan fiber may help supply food to the beneficial gut bacteria, boosting their probiotic activity. In a different investigation that included well-functioning people, ingesting 60 grams of barley per day increased an advantageous type of bacteria in the gut that could possibly help decrease inflammation and optimize blood sugar regulation.

May Aid in Weight Loss

Does barley reduce weight? Since fiber is not digestible by the body, eating foods with high amounts of fiber can increase the amount of food you eat without boosting your calorie intake. The use of high-fiber foods is heightened for individuals on a diet to lose weight. An assessment of whole grains showed that some grains, like oats, barley, and rye, increased the feeling of being full after a meal, whereas corn and whole-grain wheat did not have the same effect.

In a different study, people who ate barley for their morning meal experienced less hunger by lunchtime and ate less for future meals compared to those who consumed rice or whole wheat. A different study discovered that rats given barley high in beta-glucan fiber ate 19 percent less than animals given barley that had a lower concentration of beta-glucan. Animals that consumed barley which had a high amount of beta-glucan, experienced a noticeable reduction in their weight.

Barley plays a role in satiety and appetite control by decreasing the ghrelin hormones. This hormone is responsible for the sensation of being hungry.

Might Reduce the Levels of Cholesterol

Studies have revealed that eating barley can be advantageous for cholesterol levels. A diet composed of barley which is rich in soluble fiber, has been observed to make a decrease of 5 to 10% in the amount of total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

In a study of males with high cholesterol, consuming a meal with 20% of calories derived from barley:

  • Reduced the levels of total cholesterol by 21%
  • Reduced the LDL cholesterol by 25% and,
  • Augmented HDL cholesterol by 19%.

In further research that included men with high cholesterol, the ingestion of a mix of white rice and pearled barley diminished LDL cholesterol levels and belly fat more than those who just ate white rice.

Potential Risks

Whole grains make a great addition to anyone’s nutrition plan. A select group of people may prefer not to have barley. The main purpose of it is that it is a type of grain similar to wheat and rye containing gluten. Therefore, people with a celiac disorder or other sensitivities to wheat should not consider this a viable option.

In addition, barley comprises short-chain carbs like fructans. These are fermentable kinds of fiber. People with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could experience bloating or gassiness if they consume fructans.

If someone has irritable bowel syndrome or a delicate stomach, they must not consume barley at all. Finally, barley exerts a strong effect on glucose levels. One should be careful when consuming barley if diabetic or taking any anti-diabetes medications or insulin.

Ways of Adding Barley to a Diet

Despite barely only making up 0.36% of cereal grains, it is easy to include it as part of one’s diet. Barley is available in many forms:

  • Pearl barley: It has been partially steamed, and bran and hull layers are removed. This form of barley cooks more rapidly as compared to hulled barley. Also, it contains lesser nutrients than hulled barley.
  • Hulled barley: It is the whole-grain form of barley. In this, only the external, indigestible hull layer is removed. It’s chewier and the cooking duration is also longer than other types of barley.
  • Barley flakes: These are sliced and flattened, just like rolled oats. Their cooking is quite fast but contains lesser nutrients in comparison to hulled barley.
  • People may utilize hulled barley as an alternative to other whole grains like oats, rice, quinoa, or buckwheat.
  • To cook barley, rinse the grains underwater and the hulls are removed. Afterward, cook it by making use of a 1:3 ratio of barley to water. For instance, for ½ cup of barley, utilize one and a half cups of water. The cooking of pearled barley completes in 30 minutes, while hulled barley takes 90 minutes to become tender.

Barley Recipes

  • Diabetics can try barley flakes as a breakfast porridge rather than oats.
  • Add barley to stews or soups.
  • Note about barley flour and diabetes. Mix wheat atta with barley atta in preparing baked products.
  • Consume it as a side dish in place of rice or quinoa.
  • Try having barley water. It is worth mentioning the use of barley water to lose weight.

Barley Water

A drink made with barley and water is known as barley water. It is made by boiling the two together. At times, straining of the barley grains occurs. Occasionally, these ingredients are easy to mix with a sweetener or some type of juice to make a beverage similar to lemonade. People take barley water for huge health benefits.

Barley water is often given taste by adding lemon peel or lime juice. The beverage helps with managing one’s weight, eliminating impurities, maintaining healthy digestion, and much more. More benefits are given below.

  • Barley Water Benefits
  • Blood sugar control.
  • Lowers cholesterol.
  • Weight loss.
  • Full of antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Supports better immunity.
  • Improves digestion.


Barley is a type of grain. As with other cereals, there are both whole-grain and processed variants available. Whole grain barley, or hulled barley, is preferable for individuals with diabetes due to its high fiber and nutrient content when compared to pearl barley, which is a processed variety.

Barley is a source of carbohydrates but contains abundant amounts of dietary fiber. Fiber can be useful in helping to balance your blood sugar since it slows down the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream. Despite fiber being a type of carbohydrate, it will not boost your blood sugar as your body cannot process it.

Many research projects have been conducted concerning the advantages of barley for people who have diabetes. Research has demonstrated that consuming barley can assist in controlling blood sugar, cut down diabetes danger, encourage shedding pounds, enhance insulin sensitivity, better cholesterol levels, nurture gastrointestinal well-being, and much more.


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