A Diet High In Fibre Can Help Cut Your Diabetes Risk

| June 2, 2015

Back in 2012, nutritionist Martin Hum told our readers of the Real Diabetes Truth how a higher intake of dietary fibre can help control type 2 diabetes.

In a previous study, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina conducted a meta-analysis of the results of 15 separate clinical trials in which additional dietary fibre was given to people with type 2 diabetes. They concluded that providing a dietary fibre supplement to these patients caused significant falls in both fasting blood sugar and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels.

Now new research confirms the link between dietary fibre and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. The latest results come from an 11 year follow up study of more than 29,000 people in eight European countries, combined with the results of a previous meta-analysis of 18 other independent studies from across the globe.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Diabetologiathe and said that their data showed how people with the highest total fibre intake (of more than 26 grams per day) had an 18 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those with the lowest total fibre intake (less than 19g/day). They added that cereal fibre was the best source of fibre.

Commenting on the study, Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: “This work adds to the growing evidence of the health benefits of diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre.”

According to the results of this latest study, the risk of diabetes fell by 9 per cent for each 10g/day increase in total fibre intake, and by as much as 25 per cent for each 10g/day increase in cereal fibre intake. The researchers added: “Taken together, our results indicate that individuals with diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre, may be at lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”

So, how exactly does dietary fibre affect blood sugar levels?

Generally speaking, dietary fibre is that part of plant foods that is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine. In other words, it passes straight through our digestive system. It is split into two main categories, insoluble fibre and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre includes wheat bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, celery, salads and so forth. It provides bulk in the intestine, speeds up transit time and absorbs water to make the stools softer.

Soluble fibre is a bit of a contradiction as it isn’t really fibrous. It includes gums and mucilages that dissolve to become gelatinous and sticky liquids that are fermented by the gut bacteria. This category of fibre includes the so-called prebiotics that are used to encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, as well as substances such as beta-glucans that have been shown to support the immune system.

Foods that are high in fibre tend to have low GL (glycaemic load) scores, a measure of how they affect blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre, in particular, helps to slow down the release of sugars from foods in the gut and to delay their absorption, which means that their impact on blood sugar is reduced.

Some of the best sources of soluble fibre are oats, barley, beans, lentils, apples and citrus fruits. Linseeds and chia seeds (from a Mexican plant related to sage) are particularly high in soluble fibre and make a good addition to muesli, porridge or salads.
You could also use one of the many soluble fibre supplements on the market, such as psyllium, apple pectin, FOS or glucomannan.

Here’s to healthy living,

Francois Lubbe
Real Diabetes Truth

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


Higher fibre intake could cut diabetes risk, published online 28.05.15, nutraingredients.com

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Costa GT, Guimarães SB, Sampaio HA. Fructo-oligosaccharide effects on blood glucose: an overview. Acta Cir Bras. 2012; 27(3):279-282.

Tundis R, Loizzo MR, Menichini F. Natural products as alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and their hypoglycaemic potential in the treatment of diabetes: an update. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2010; 10(4):315-331.

Wannamethee SG, Whincup PH, Thomas MC, Sattar N. Associations between dietary fibre and inflammation, hepatic function, and risk of type 2 diabetes in older men: potential mechanisms for the benefits of fiber on diabetes risk. Diabetes Care. 2009; 32(10):1823-1825.

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