Professor Tim Spector's everyday simple food swap to reduce blood sugar levels and help gut microbes

Professor Tim Spector said that he managed to reduce his blood sugar levels and increased fibre with a change to his diet
-Credit: (Image: Zoe)

Nurtitional scientist Tim Spector has advised people to make a simple swap on an everyday food item which can have a big impact on health. The professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and founder of the Zoe health app, said that people who have pasta and rice regularly should make a change.

He explained that it will help blood sugar levels and also help gut microbes - meaning that inflammation would be reduced too. Prof Spector told the Zoe podcast: “My favourite Zoe swaps that I’ve learned in the last few years since testing that my blood sugar and I used to eat a lot of regular pasta. I’ve now swapped that for either whole grain and sometimes to things like lentil pastas or chickpea pastas, because they’re producing much less of a sugar spike for me and they’re higher in fibre, and that’s helpful for my gut microbes.

“So I’ve really made that switch, which I find very easy and still super tasty. The other thing that I’ve done is pretty much reduced way down my consumption of white rice. I still like it occasionally, but I found that brown rice isn’t that much better for me. And so I wherever I can. I’ve made the swap to go to other grains, and if you can get a mix of grains, that’s even better. They all have much higher levels of both protein and fibre than anything that rice can offer, and that diversity is really important.”

And Prof Spector said the swap-outs also contain polyphenols which are antioxidants that help feed your gut microbiome. He added: “Pasta and rice are staples in most of our households, but it’s worth knowing this simple swap to improve the impact on your blood sugar and ensure your microbes get a good meal too. If like me, you have poor blood sugar control, the fibre content of pasta and grains can vary hugely so it’s well worth checking the label to look for how many grams of fibre there are per 100g”

He explained choosing a standard white pasta will provide around 3.5g of fibre, swapping to wholegrain wheat pasta increases this to over 5g and choosing pasta made from chickpeas increases this to 9g with 22g of protein per 100g.

Similarly, while white rice has less than 1g of fibre per 100g, brown rice has 1.5g of fibre per 100g, quinoa and bulgur wheat have around 2.3g, pearl barley has 5.4g. He added: “Over 90% of us don’t get enough fibre and it’s contributing to the deterioration of our gut microbiomes and as a result, our health. hope this swap is helpful for a simple way to add more fibre into your diet. Of course, adding some extra vegetables, protein or healthy fats will also help your blood sugar response to white pasta and rice.”