Objectives: The present study tests two interrelated hypotheses: (1) that bedtime ingestion of uncooked cornstarch exerts a lower and delayed nocturnal blood glucose peak compared with a conventional snack; (2) that bedtime carbohydrate supplement, administered as uncooked cornstarch, prevents nocturnal hypoglycaemia without altering metabolic control in intensively treated type 1 diabetes (IDDM) patients.
Design and subjects: The above hypotheses were tested separately (1) by pooling and analysing data from two overnight studies of comparable groups of patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) (14 and 10 patients, respectively), and (2) by a double-blind, randomized 4-week cross-over study in 12 intensively treated IDDM patients.
Setting: Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg. Sweden.
Interventions: (1) Ingestion of uncooked cornstarch and wholemeal bread (0.6 g of carbohydrates kg-1 body weight) and carbohydrate-free placebo at 22.00 h. (2) Intake of uncooked cornstarch (0.3 g kg-1 body weight) and carbohydrate-free placebo at 23.00 h.
Main outcome measures: (1) Nocturnal glucose and insulin levels; (2) frequency of self-estimated hypoglycaemia (blood glucose [BG] levels < 3.0 mmol L-1) at 03.00 h, HbA1c and fasting lipids.
Results: Bedtime uncooked cornstarch ingestion led to a lower (2.9 +/- 0.5 vs. 5.2 +/- 0.6 mM, P = 0.01) and delayed (4.3 +/- 0.6 vs. 2.0 +/- 0.0 h, P < 0.01) BG peak, compared with a conventional snack, in NIDDM patients. Four weeks of bedtime uncooked cornstarch supplement, as compared with placebo, led to a 70% reduction in the frequency of self-estimated hypoglycaemia at 03.00 h (P < 0.05), without affecting HbA1c or fasting lipids in IDDM patients.
Conclusions: Uncooked cornstarch, ingested at bedtime, mimicked the nocturnal glucose utilization profile following insulin replacement, with a peak in blood glucose after 4 h. In IDDM patients, bedtime uncooked cornstarch supplement diminished the number of self-estimated hypoglycaemic episodes, without adversely affecting HbA1c and lipid levels. Hence, bedtime uncooked cornstarch ingestion may be feasible to prevent a mid-nocturnal glycaemic decline following insulin replacement in IDDM and, based on the nocturnal blood glucose profile, may also be preferable compared with conventional snacks.