Barley

I’ve been reading the article on barley on Wikipedia starting in the Food subtopic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barley#Food

The Preparation section describes the various preparation types:

  • dehulled barley (or pot barley or scotch barley)

  • pearled barley

The Health implications section says:

Eating whole-grain barley, as well as other grains with lots of fiber, improves regulation of blood sugar (i.e., reduces blood glucose response to a meal).[53] Consuming breakfast cereals containing barley over weeks to months also improved cholesterol levels and glucose regulation.

Based on this information, I’m considering adding dehulled barley to my diet. Even though it’s high in carbohydrates, it seems like it would facilitate the management of my blood sugar. I did a forum search for barley here and there was only one topic that seemed to discuss barley as it’s primary topic and the comments there were all pretty much negative about it (although many of those comments were based on its unsuitability for those with celiac disease which I don’t have).

So I’m wondering if there are others who might have experimented with barley as part of their diet and what their experiences were… was it helpful in helping you manage your blood sugar?

The other questions I have are where the heck do you get dehulled barley (I looked online and Quaker sells barley varieties but they seem to be all pearled) and how do you prepare it? I do love beef barley soup but I’m not gonna have it every day. Any suggestions?

I make plenty of soups with pearled barley (I really don’t know the difference) in a crock pot or instant pot (pressure cooker). As far as cooking goes it’s more similar to a bean than a grain in its characteristics. I don’t think there’s anything magical as far as blood sugars go other than foods with higher fiber mean less digestible carbohydrate… In fact I made a delicious moose and barley soup last night in the instant pot

Maybe the best thing you could do is experiment eating a meal with barley and then measuring your post-meal blood glucose for an hour or two afterwards. No matter what other people experience with any kind of food, your response is the one that counts. And do it more than once so you can get a feeling for the inevitable variability.

Having said that, my experience with grains is that they rocket my post-meal BG almost every time. I gave up trying to make it work. The large dose of insulin required to metabolize grain compromised my safety. The body doesn’t react the same way, even with the very same meal. If your insulin sensitivity increases one day and you dose the same insulin that worked for that meal last time, you may take too much insulin and go hypo.

Good luck. Your personal experimentation is the key to deciding if barley is good for you or not.

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You should really note that barley doesn’t have magic blood sugar lowering properties. It’s still a carbohydrate and will raise your blood sugar and needs boluses for. That’s probably not what you intended to say, but it reads that way when you mention using it as part of your treatment plan.

That Wikipedia excerpt is based on several half-truths and not giving you the full story. It’s kind of like saying that sugar frosted cereal flakes are “part of balanced breakfast”…when combined with eggs, milk, orange juice, and a griddled tomato that would have made a balanced breakfast all on their own.

When it claims to regulate blood sugar, what it really means is that barley is high in fiber, thus lower in the glycemic index because the fiber slows down glucose metabolism/absorption. It’s also relying on the fact that, ounce for ounce, any whole grain will raise your blood glucose less than highly refined wheat, rice, and corn, because much of the carbohydrates in fiber can’t be absorbed. (personally, I find I need to count about 1/3 of all grams of fiber.). I also think this article is biased by the same grain-based agriculture propaganda that put cereals at the bottom of the original food pyramid.

So yes, if you’re going to eat grain, barley is a better option than your typical white breads, white flours, and processed boxes of cereal. Just as whole grain oats, spelt, millet, amaranth, and brown rice are better choices, too. And hey, they taste delicious, so go for it if it works for you! You just have to remember to keep it in moderation.

As for the unhulled barley, I wouldn’t stress with that too much. Again, the only dietary reason to eat the hulk is to increase the fiber content. But there’s a reason it’s generally removed… It’s considered inedible! It’s like eating the outter papery husk on an ear of corn. I have seen it at my favorite health food store, Natural Grocers. It’s INSANELY expensive because it’s rare and considered a specialty food. Go for the hulled barley, which is actually only partially hulled and still has a large amount of whole grain fiber. If you really want the extra fiber, you’re better off adding extra bran to the mix, which is readily available at any grocer.

If you really, really, really want unhulled barley, Azure Standard and VitaCost are great online sources to check. Or you could look for sprouting barley or barley seed, as it will be as minimally processed as can be. You’ll want to sort through it though, looking for abnormal grains that wouldn’t have passed food grade product inspection.

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I found barley to be the only grain that didn’t cause an extreme spike after a meal. That said, Robyn H is right, it is not going to regulate your blood sugar. What it will do, because of the lower glycemic index is a more gradual rise over a longer period of time (at least that’s what I found). Great to avoid spikes, tough to bolus for because of delay when on MDI. I haven’t noticed any difference in the impact on blood sugars between pot and pearled barley but everyone is different.

The statement in the article doesn’t claim that it regulates blood sugar, it says it " improves regulation of blood sugar (i.e., reduces blood glucose response to a meal)". Insulin regulates blood sugar.

I’m not saying I want to eat the hulls… I’m saying that the article states that there’s a difference between dehulled barley (the only processing of which is the removal of the hull) and pearled barley (dehulled barley that has also been steam processed). So no, I don’t want to eat the whole barley with the hulls intact. I’m interested in eating dehulled barley that has not been pearled.

For several years I was an ardent fan of Bob’s Red Mill Hull-less barley. It’s a whole grain which has a hull easily removed during processing and with the natural fiber is quite filling. It takes 25-30 minutes cooking al dente, so I used to make a pot of barley once a week and refrigerate it (or freeze) for an easy breakfast each morning - just add nuts and seeds, few berries. The total carbs are 34g and fiber 8g.
There is a higher fiber barley called Sustagrain sold as flakes by King Arthur Flour that has 3x as much fiber as oat flakes. A serving of Sustagrain has 29g carbs and 14g fiber. Sustagrain barley is from a variety called Prowashonupana which did favorably when tested for it’s effect on blood glucose in diabetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16021833
Then I discovered a hull-less barley developed in Australia called BARLEYmax (not the same as a powder with a similar name) with even more fiber and 11 net carbs per serving. https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/AF/Areas/Plant-Science/Wheat-barley/BARLEYmax Unfortunately it’s only available in Australia as a boxed cereal combined with oats from Freedom Foods.
I sadly gave up barley after adopting a ketogenic diet, but I sorely miss it.

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Among our members we span the entire spectrum of writing ability and facility with English. As someone who prizes proper use of the language, I realize if we filtered comments for correct grammar and spelling, I don’t think we’d have much of a community left. I fear I also cross the line with regard to always using the language properly. It’s a work in progress.

I’ve learned to read over these errors and try to grasp the intent and meaning of anyone who comments here. I’ve become proficient in reading typo! More importantly, we are all connected with our struggle with diabetes. Let’s not stilt the communication with some expected proficiency in writing.

I get where you’re coming from but I want my brother and sister diabetics to feel comfortable and at home. Don’t you think that’s better?

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What I can tell you is my grasp of punctuation is like 3rd grade

Please excuse my off-topic excursion. If it goes any further, I’ll spilt it off to a separate topic.

I think the best way to influence good use of language is by example. People do notice and hopefully more of us will seek to improve their language skills over time.

Here’s a humorous example of the value of punctuation:

  • Let’s eat, grandma.

  • Let’s eat grandma.

My grandma passed away

Nobody made as good a German ham loaf is she did

Is ending sentences without punctuation correct? In informal forums like this one, we often choose which grammar rules we’re willing to follow and which we’re not.

The content is more important than minor grammar rules.

@MarieB, @Lorraine, @Stemwinder_Gary - Could one of you please prune this off-topic excursion from @katzgar’s first comment through where appropriate when you get to this and use it to start a need thread? I think we need a grammar police thread and the barley thread is getting hi-jacked! Thank-you.

Edited to add: I decided to just go ahead and start the grammar thread.

While I enjoy conversations about language and grammar,

plus, we try to stay “on topic” here in the forum.

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I couldn’t agree more. Frankly if grammar is a big deal on this forum it’s doing a big disservice 2 diabetics

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So, would anyone like to talk about barley?

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I haven’t really eaten much barley so I’m not sure how it might affect your blood sugar levels. If you’re looking for a grain, this seems like one of the better ones because a decent portion of the carbs appear to be fiber.

Here’s a link to a list of recipes that look like they use dehulled barley: https://www.thespruce.com/start-with-barley-483078

Maybe checkout the photos at the bottom. Some of the recipes look pretty good. When I googled hulled barley, I came up with a bunch of claims about how it was a miracle food. It looks like it’s supposed to be good for your heart and blood pressure. If these are concerns for you, then maybe it’s worth trying out and seeing if it changes your bloodwork next time.

[Edit]: It looks like many of these recipes call for pearled barley. I wonder if you could just cook the dehulled barley for longer and substitute it into the recipe?

There are many claims online about different foods either “regulating blood glucose” or “improving the regulation of blood glucose.” Wikipedia is moderated by community users (i.e., anyone, just about), and shouldn’t, in my opinion, be trusted for medically relevant information. I’ve learned to be skeptical about any claims on Wikipedia or anywhere else about foods that help in “regulating blood glucose” or similar claims.

As for barley itself, I can’t suggest where to find it in any form, other than that coops are good places to find bulk ingredients in various forms. What I do know is that barley doesn’t affect my blood glucose any differently than any other grain with a similar fiber to digestible carbohydrate to protein profile. As far as my blood sugar is concerned, glycemic index values, different sources of fiber or digestible carbohydrate, etc. doesn’t seem to matter as much total content of carbs, fiber, protein, and fats. Fiber and fats tend to slow down blood sugar spikes for me; protein can be hit or miss depending on many other factors; digestible carbohydrate is directly correlated to my blood glucose, although when spikes occur is affected by what else comes with them.

So, for me, I generally choose not to eat barley, oats, wheats, and other high-carb grains, because they all tend to affect my BG in similar ways and I don’t have great tools to deal with the blood glucose increases. I have experimented (especially early on) to see whether barley or oats were better for me than an equal-caloric quantity of wheat or corn, etc. Personally, I didn’t find any significant difference in affects on my blood glucose.

I’ve started another thread about grammar. I wish I had started it earlier!