Can A High-Fiber Diet Help Manage Diabetes

Can A High-Fiber Diet Help Manage Diabetes?

Currently, in the United States, an estimated 30.3 million people have diabetes and that number continues to grow. Of that number, about 24 million have type 2 diabetes and another 96 million people are pre-diabetic. This means blood sugar levels are too high. Managing type 2 diabetes starts with exercise and diet. Both are equally important to keep glucose levels in check. Managing what one eats by making a few changes and adding a daily exercise regimen is helpful, even a 7-minute yoga workout is a great way to achieve this. There are so many great options to choose from and staying healthy doesn’t mean “you can’t live a little”. In fact, many people are starting to change up their diets to clean and healthy eating and restaurants are starting to follow along with that same line of thought as well. We’ll discuss fiber in this article.

A proper diet is important when it comes to diabetes. There are so many things that cannot be eaten and so much more than should be eaten. Sugar is out. Protein is in. Fat is out. Fiber is in and a key ingredient to managing diabetes. Typically, a person needs 25-38g of fiber a day but someone with diabetes is recommended to eat about 30-50g. A high-fiber diet can produce lower serum glucose levels than a low-fiber diet. Fiber slows down both gastric emptying and digestion. Due to this delay, the absorption of glucose is reduced. This means a lower blood sugar level and a long-term improvement for glucose control.

Research has also shown that fiber may benefit diabetes by altering hormonal signals, slowing nutrient absorption, changing fermentation within the large intestine and promoting satiety. Fiber can also help to prevent constipation, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and colon/breast cancer.

Fiber is great source for weight loss and weight loss can very much help to manage type 2 diabetes. Using an animal study as a reference point, it has been proven that mice who were fed a diet, rich in fibers gained less weight than those who were without a fiber supplementation. A different study discovered that a regular consumption of a high-fiber diet resulted in other benefits to type 2 diabetes such as: lowered lipid concentrations, decrease excess in insulin levels and improved control of blood sugar levels.

Fiber is not digested by the body and therefore, will not raise blood sugar. For people with type 2 diabetes, that is a very good thing to hear. Fiber-rich foods can help with the effects of carbohydrates (which can be hard on the digestive system). The reason fiber helps with carbs is because it allows the intestines to slow down the digestion process, which in turn slows down the glucose within one’s bloodstream.

Making A Fiber Introduction

While it is recommended for people with diabetes to try to get at 50g of fiber daily, it is also acknowledged that 50g is a lot of fiber. The ADA (American Diabetes Association) states that the average American eats about 15g of fiber per day. For people who ate more than 26g of fiber per day, 18 percent had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate at 19g or less.

With an increase of fiber necessary to help with the management of diabetes, it should be stated that moderation is key in the beginning.

Fiber should be added to one’s diet slowly. If fiber is added to quickly, it can cause a lot of abdominal discomfort such as bloating and gas. It is also important to increase one’s water intake as fiber intake increases. This helps to slow down fiber in the digestive tract.

There are many healthy ways to get daily fiber but most commonly, it is achieved through fiber-rich foods such as: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. To get enough fiber in your diet through fiber-rich foods, it is recommended to have at least one fruit (watch blood sugar levels) or a vegetable with every meal. Research shows that those who eat a diet of whole grains have less body fast than those who do not.  The biggest part of the fiber in your foods should come from fruits and vegetables, not whole grains.

There are fiber supplements available as well. However, you will want to consult with your doctor before increasing your fiber intake.

Not all fibers are equal and therefore, will not offer the same health benefits. All fibers however, will help to improve blood glucose control and decrease blood sugar spikes.

Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fibers are filling which is helpful for weight loss. However, soluble fiber is the one that is more helpful when it comes to health. Once soluble fiber is consumed, it draws in water and then forms into a gel-like texture within the stomach. This process is similar to chia seeds, which also fill up the stomach.

A research study created in 2010 by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that fiber if a non-digestible form of carbohydrates and lignin that naturally occur in plants. The fiber that is found within the carbohydrates is non-digestible due to the bonds within the molecule, which cannot be broken down into sugar via human enzymes. Lignin is a substance that is found within the cell walls of dry plants. It is what makes plants both rigid and stiff.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that will dissolve in water very easily. It has a ton of healthy benefits that can all lessen the risk of diabetes. It helps to lower cholesterol because it will bind to the cholesterol and be pushed from the body. This can lessen the risk of heart disease as well. This happens when fiber decreases the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. High-fiber diets can help to reduce the formation of potentially harmful blood clots. Soluble fiber can also decrease the visceral fat in the abdomen. Visceral fat is located deep within the body and it surrounds important organs within the abdomen. When there is a high amount of visceral fat, the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure increases. Soluble fiber can also control blood glucose levels and prevent blood glucose spikes. Soluble fiber works to delay entry into the bloodstream and lessen the rise in blood sugar after eating. Sudden spikes to glucose levels increase blood sugar, which is a leading factor in type 2 diabetes.

Examples of soluble fiber

  • Oat Bran
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Some Fruits
  • Vegetables

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is a type of fiber that cannot be digested from the body very easily. It keeps the digestive track working longer, which also helps a person to fill fuller, longer. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive system, intact. This type of fiber adds bulkiness to the stool, which means it is even more important to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation.

Insoluble fiber helps to control pH within the intestines, prevents constipation, removes toxic waste, moves bulk within the intestines, promotes regular bowel movement and helps to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Both fibers are good for the body and can help a person to fill fuller faster and longer.  This helps with overeating, which in turn helps with weight gain and ultimately lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Fiber Supplements

Fiber supplements are another way to get enough fiber into one’s body. However, fiber supplements do not work for everyone. When it comes to these supplements, there is a drawback. Fiber is able to get into one’s system but important nutrients that comes from fiber-rich foods are not found within these supplements. Therefore, the best way to get a great, power-packed source of fiber is from fruits and vegetables.

Consult with your endocrinologist or nutritionist before taking fiber supplements. A doctor can better explain what sort of supplement would work best since everyone’s body works a bit differently. Fiber supplements were once meant for helping with constipation but today, they are used for regular daily use to make sure people are getting their required daily fiber. Since fiber helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, these supplements have become far more popular. However, not all fiber supplements are equal and that is why a doctor should be consulted first. Some contain very little fiber which really isn’t helpful to the cause.

What Food Sources Have Fiber?

Look for foods at the market/store that state at least 3g of fiber. However, 5g is better!

100 % Whole Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Barely
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Tritcale

Wheat

  • Spelt
  • Eemmer
  • Farro
  • Einkorn
  • Kamut
  • Durum
  • Bulgar
  • Cracked Wheat
  • Wheat Berries

Wild Rice

Seeds

  • Chia
  • Flax
  • Psyllium Seed Husk

Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Pistachio
  • Pecans

Legumes

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Black Beans
  • Lima Beans

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Green Beans
  • Artichoke
  • Turnip Greens
  • Potato
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomato Paste
  • Carrot

Fiber in Dried Fruit

Dried fruits are very convenient in a world that is always on the go and what’s more, they are chocked full of fiber. Drying out fruit doesn’t change its fiber count. This includes raisins, dates, figs, prunes, cranberries, apricots, etc.

When water is removed from fruits and it is dried out, nutrients and fiber become more concentrated. Dried fruit is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin B folate.

The natural sugars within dried fruit are also more concentrated as well. However, that isn’t necessarily a cause for concern and most athletes find that it is a good thing since it gives them necessary fuel. For those who are watching their food intake in an effort to lose weight or for diabetic reasons, it can become an issue. Portion control is very important when it comes to dried fruit.

Bananas Can Help

Bananas are controversial when it comes to people with diabetes. They are full of natural sugar which means they can be looked at as bad news for people who are trying to limit their sugar. However, bananas have an endless supply of healthy benefits that those with diabetes cannot afford to do without.

When it comes to diabetes, the most important thing one can do in order to slow its progression is to maintain good blood sugar control. If one does not maintain good blood sugar control, diabetic complications will arise.

Because bananas are so high in natural sugar, one could wonder how they ended up on this list. Well, while bananas do have a lot of sugar and cards, they also have a lot of other nutrients as well that can work against sugar spikes.

Bananas contain fiber and as this article repeats over and over again, fiber is wonderful for those who are looking to lose weight, manage diabetes or lowering the risk of developing diabetes. Because of the fiber found in bananas, blood sugar spikes are reduced while blood sugar control is improved.

They are low in calories and are good source of potassium, vitamin B6, manganese and vitamin C. The ADA stated within their 2016 standards of medical care that those with diabetes should include foods with cards into their daily diet. This includes legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Fruit is not restricted just because it has natural sugars. However, the ADA does state that only recommended amounts should be consumed. A research assessment that appeared in a 2013 Britch Journal of Medicine showed that consumption of whole fruits, which included bananas lowered the risk of diabetes while drinking fruit juice increase the risk.

Peanut Butter and Type 2 Diabetes

One great way to help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and lose weight sits in a plastic jar in most people’s pantry. Peanut butter is great for snacking on or even a quick lunch. Not only does it fill up the stomach, it also helps to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

There has been a lot of debate as of late when it comes to animal protein verses plant protein. Which is better? Which is worse? Studies have popped up online that show people who have eaten a plant-based protein diet for the past 20 years, have reduced their risk by 9 percent while those who followed an animal-based protein diet increased their risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent. Animal protein can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Peanut butter is one of the most popular plant-based proteins eaten in the United States today. Peanuts contain about 8g of protein, which is more protein than any other nut. They are also a great source of fiber and other essential nutrients that the body needs. Peanuts are cholesterol-free and are very high in healthy fats. They are healthy for the heart, great for weight managements and preventive toward diabetes.

Evidence from a research study shows that when deli meat was swapped out for peanut butter, diabetes risk decreased by 21 percent. Also, eating peanuts instead of refined grains or potatoes dropped diabetes risk by 7 to 16 percent.

Overall, peanut butter is great source of both protein and fiber that is not only helpful in losing weight but also in managing diabetes.

Many households already have it in their pantries while other people also use almond butters and other butters as well. Nuts are great for lowering the risk of diabetes and losing weight. They make a great addition to dieting, in moderation, of course.

Interesting Fiber Facts:

  • Fiber keeps you fuller longer, pulls cholesterol away from your heart and helps to promote regular bowel function
  • It also regulates blood sugar
  • Fiber is the indigestible of a carbohydrate that is found in seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • The ADA recommends daily intake for fiber is between 25-38 grams per day. However, most people only eat about 15 grams a day.
  • In the 1830’s, Rev. Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister and advocate of dietary reform argued that bran was the cure to an unhealthy diet. He created Graham flour, which is still used today in many kitchens.
  • The importance of fiber was first noted by Hippocrates.
  • Fiber can only be found in plant foods and therefore, cannot be found in dairy or meat products.
  • Research shows that fiber has protective effects against breast cancer and decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Fiber is referred to as “Nature’s Broom” because it keeps food moving around twists and turns of the 28-foot long digestive tract.
  • It’s helpful when it comes to overeating and therefore, an essential source of food for weight loss.
  • Too much fiber (more than 50 grams a day) can cause bowel issues, leading to a loss of minerals in the body.
  • January is Fiber Focus Month
  • America’s at 10 times more fiber 100 years ago then they do today