According to a recent randomized, crossover study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a diet high in fiber, particularly of the soluble type, can give Type 2 diabetics better control of their blood sugar levels and also reduce their cholesterol levels.1
Thirteen Type 2 diabetics participated in the study. The subjects followed two diets each for a period of six weeks. For one six week period, the subjects received a diet containing a moderate amount of fiber (total fiber = 24 g consisting of 8 g soluble fiber and 16 g insoluble fiber), which is the fiber intake recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). For the other six week period, the subjects received a high-fiber diet (total fiber = 50 g consisiting of 25 g soluble fiber and 25 g insoluble fiber). None of the foods the subjects consumed were fortified with fiber.
Comparison of the high-fiber and ADA diet during the sixth week of administration revealed the following results in favor of the high-fiber diet:
- Mean daily preprandial plasma glucose concentrations were 13 mg/dL lower.
- The high-fiber diet lowered the area under the curve for 24-hour plasma glucose concentrations by 10% (p = 0.02).
- The area under the curve for 24-hour plasma insulin concentrations were 12% (p = 0.05) lower.
- Plasma concentrations for total cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol were reduced 6.7% (p = 0.02), 10.2% (p = 0.02), and 12.5% (p = 0.01), respectively.
In an editorial that appears in the same journal issue as the study, Dr. Marc Rendell of the Creighton Diabetes Center in Omaha, Nebraska commented that the improvements in the subjects eating a high-fiber diet were similar to what patients would observe if they took an anti-diabetes drug. 2
- Chandalia, M.; Garg, A.; Lutjohann, D.; von Bergmann, K; Grundy, S.M.; and Brinkley, L.J. (2000) Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N. Engl. J. Med. 342(19), 1392-8.
- Rendell, M. (2000) Dietary treatment of diabetes mellitus. N. Engl. J. Med. 342(19), 1440-1.