Why should diabetics eat fiber?

Often, diet information for people with diabetes revolves around carbohydrates. But it’s almost as important to make sure you get enough dietary fiber.

First of all, in diabetes, fiber improves blood sugar control. This effect has been analyzed and measured many times. In particular, it has been proven that in the short term (six weeks), a diet very rich in fiber reduces blood sugar levels before meals in diabetic patients.

Fiber, good for the heart of diabetics

And that’s not all! Eating a lot of fiber also protects the cardiovascular system. People who eat a lot of fiber see their blood cholesterol decrease, especially LDL cholesterol which, when present in excess, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. This probably explains why, among diabetics who eat the most fiber, the risk of stroke is much lower than among those who eat the least.

Which fiber to choose?

These benefits are associated with soluble fiber. They are also called “soft” fibers, they are easy to digest and swell with water during digestion. They are opposed to insoluble fibers (such as whole wheat, multi-seed bread, pear, apple, etc.) which are more often the cause of intestinal problems – they have an irritating effect on the intestine which accelerates transit.

Soluble fibers can be found in :

  • oatmeal,
  • barley flour
  • cooked vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • etc.

An adult needs 30g of fiber per day. This corresponds to 5 portions of fruit and vegetables (about 500g, spread over the day), plus a portion of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, etc.) and whole grains.

There is nothing easier than to enjoy all the variety of fruits and vegetables available in our markets and supermarkets…

Sources:

Chandalia, M. et al, beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, N Engl J Med 2000; 342:1392-1398May 11, 2000DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200005113421903

Gibb, RD et al, Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1604-14. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.106989. Epub 2015 Nov 11.