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From New York, USA:

I have been trying to find out more about uncooked cornstarch to prevent low blood sugars. Products like NiteBite and Zbar advertise that the uncooked cornstarch helps keep the blood sugar up longer than other carbohydrates or proteins. I understand that this approach was first used in children with a disorder called glycogen storage disease where the children are unable to pull out stored sugar from the liver during the night when they are sleeping and have low blood sugars during sleep if they do not eat.

What I haven't been able to find out is the following:

  1. How can these companies make these bars without "cooking" the uncooked cornstarch in preparation?
  2. Is there any way people can make their own recipes using uncooked cornstarch say in milk, pudding, or anything else? I though perhaps parents of children with glycogen storage disease may have come up with some interesting recipes they could share with people with diabetes.

I would appreciate any information you can provide.


You are right on track. This concept of using uncooked cornstarch to prevent hypoglycemia was originally "discovered" for children with glycogen storage disease; it helped eliminate the need for naso-gastric tube feedings at night. So, someone decided to apply it to children with diabetes. There has been little research done in this arena for diabetes other than by Francine Kaufman: Kaufman FR: Annual Am Diabetes Assoc Meeting, Abstract #5, 1995; Kaufman, FR and Devgan, S., Use of Uncooked Cornstarch to Avert Nocturnal Hypoglycemia in Children and Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes, Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, 1996; 10:84-87.

You can just add uncooked cornstarch, the kind you buy in a box at the store, to milk, a shake or pudding. We've recommended this to some people. The dose (or amount) is not well determined but about 1 1/2 teaspoons may due the trick. My hunch is this may depend on body size but again it has not been well researched. Of course, I also try to assess reasons for low blood glucose levels such as extra activity during the day or insufficient carbohydrate intake etc. and not use as a cure all. But some people feel the uncooked cornstarch helps.

The cornstarch needs to be uncooked otherwise the proposed delayed effect will not occur since the carbohydrate will already be broken down. Uncooked cornstarch is a long chain and is primarily broken down by pancreatic amylase and then continues to be slowly digested.

As to the efficacy of uncooked cornstarch, I don't feel the one to two studies done in people with diabetes adequately addresses the issue. I would feel the same about any other topic of research with limited studies. However, some patients feel it really does help and theoretically and in children with glycogen storage disease it seems to have some scientific basis.

I did come up with some recipes with uncooked cornstarch in them. Some people have really liked them. I think they taste better than the commercial bars available.


Original posting 16 Nov 96


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