Eating a High Fiber Diet Can Help Manage Diabetes in an Unexpected Way
We’ve known for a while that eating a high fiber diet is good for our bodies. Fiber is found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
It helps to keep us full, maintain healthy body weight, reduce chances of overeating, and potentially lower cholesterol and reduce risk for chronic diseases and cancer. Plus, it can support a healthy gut by helping waste pass through your digestive system efficiently.
Fiber is great on its own, but a recent study shows it may be even more beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. According to the study, published in the journal Science, eating a high fiber diet can create the ultimate environment for gut bacteria and help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes—which occurs when the pancreas cannot make enough insulin or your body becomes resistant to insulin.
The six-year study examined two groups with type 2 diabetes over 12 weeks. The control group was given regular type 2 diabetes dietary recommendations and patient education. The test group was given the same calorie goals, but a diet recommendation that was much higher in dietary fiber, including whole grains, traditional fiber-rich Chinese-medicinal foods, and prebiotics. Both groups were given the drug acarbose to help control blood glucose.
At the end of the study, those following the high fiber diet had significantly lower blood sugar levels, lost more weight, and their fasting blood glucose levels dropped faster.
People with type 2 diabetes typically have lower levels of short-chain fatty acids, which help nourish gut lining cells, reduce inflammation, and control appetite. A high fiber diet alters the gut microbiome and can promote the growth of short-chain fatty acids—which is most likely why those with type-2 diabetes saw positive side effects.
Liping Zhao, the study's lead author and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, told Science Daily, "Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment. "