Dietary Fiber & Diabetes
When it comes to factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes, a diet low in fiber seems to be a big one. There are currently more than 194 million people living with diabetes worldwide, and if nothing is done to slow the epidemic, the number will exceed 333 million by 2025, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
But there’s good news: As the number of individuals who develop diabetes continues to grow, so does evidence that a diet rich in fiber might be the solution for this disease, or at least help to control its symptom and reduce its complications.
In fact, one clinical trial found that eating a fiber-enriched bread for only three days improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese women by nearly 10 per cent.
Characterized by sustained high blood-sugar levels, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. It tends to develop when the body can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin that’s needed to lower blood sugar to normal levels. It also develops when the body cannot properly use the insulin that it does produce. Fiber works to reverse this effect by delaying gastric stomach emptying, slowing the entry of sugar into the bloodstream and reducing the post-meal rise in blood sugar. It may also lessen insulin requirements in those with type 1 diabetes.
In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and not smoking, researchers say diet plays a significant role in lowering a person’s risk of diabetes. A diet rich in fiber-rich foods that also has a low glycemic index seems to be the key to good health.
While fiber manages to lower the blood-sugar levels, foods that have a high glycemic index (potatoes, refined foods such as white bread, white rice, refined cereals, white spaghetti, and sugar) do the exact opposite.
Nutrition experts say that there is no one diet for diabetes, but those with the disease should follow the nutrition guidelines in the Food Pyramid, while paying special attention to carbohydrate intake. People with diabetes should also eat about the same amount of food at the same time each day to keep blood-sugar levels stable.
The American Diabetic Association recommends those with the disease should include six servings of whole grains into their diet each day, along with five fruits and vegetables. Sugars and sweets should be consumed in moderation.