ST. LOUIS - When Dr. Francine Kaufman was searching for a way to help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar in healthy ranges she turned to an unlikely ingredient: raw uncooked cornstarch.
Young patients were struggling with serious low blood sugar overnight – called severe hypoglycemia. If left untreated, low blood sugar has serious consequences including coma or even death.
Dr. Kaufman explains her unlikely discovery in her book Diabesity; research had shown that “raw cornstarch serves as a reservoir of glucose in the intestinal tract because it is digested very slowly, over period of six to eight hours.”
A light bulb moment occurred when Kaufman realized uncooked cornstarch could be used to help patients sleep safely through the night. So, she donned an apron and began experimenting in her kitchen to make a snack that would help control blood sugar and taste good. The result was Extend Bar.
Today, Kaufman’s formula is used in a line of 17 snacks made by Extend Nutrition which include protein bars, shake powders and crunchy snacks.
The snacks have been proven to help keep blood sugar stable for 6 to 9 hours.
The Extend Nutrition formula has been verified by clinical studies and Glycemic Institute testing. Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service published “A study to measure the GI values of Extend Bar™ nutrition bars” in December 2004.
The Glycemic Index was developed in order to rank foods according to the extent which they increase blood glucose levels after being eaten
Foods with a High GI contain rapidly digested carbohydrate that produces a rapid and large rise and fall in the level of blood glucose. In contrast, foods with a Low GI value contain slowly digested carbohydrate produce a gradual, relatively low rise in the level of blood glucose.
These tests confirmed that the Extend Nutrition formula is Low Glycemic.
Results from both epidemiological and experimental studies show that Low GI diets can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers; improve blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes; reduce high blood fat levels (bad cholesterol); and can be useful for weight control (Sydney University).
In a pilot study of children with diabetes at an overnight summer camp it was found that “uncooked cornstarch can diminish night time and morning hypoglycemia in subjects with diabetes, without causing hyperglycemia” (Kaufman, Halvorson, Kaufman).
Additional studies found that the formula was effective for people with type I diabetes (Kaufman, Devgan) and people with type II diabetes (Dyer-Parziale).
One somewhat surprising clinical study found that the formula also has promise as a natural appetite suppressant. The study showed a “21% reduction in calories consumed at meal time when Extend Bar was consumed as a between meal snack compared to a placebo snack” (Sussman).
The benefits of stable blood sugar were further confirmed by a study that evaluated exercise performance after ingestion of Extend Bar. The study indicated that “uncooked cornstarch is associated with enhanced carbohydrate utilization during and after exercise” (Kaufman).
The full text of these clinical studies are published for review at www.ExtendNutrition.com
The media is starting to take notice. In 2013, Muscle and Fitness Hers Magazine wrote “turns out, uncooked cornstarch, while still a carbohydrate, is a low-glycemic carb that won’t make you crash on the insulin roller coaster like its cooked version will” (Aydt).
"Consumers are beginning to connect the dots between blood sugar management, obesity and the growing diabetes epidemic," said Kensey Turnbaugh, Extend Nutrition brand manager.
"We know that lifestyle changes can prevent diabetes" Kaufman wrote in Diabesity. "We've proven that if people eat right, lose weight and become physically active, they can halt the progression to full-blown diabetes."