How Beneficial is a High Fiber Diet for Diabetics?

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Diabetes management is all about controlling your blood glucose spikes by making food choices that keep stable and satiating. In other words, observe a high fiber diet to stave off hunger pangs. High fiber diets coincidentally have health benefits like lower fat absorption, improved bowel movements, gut health, and general detoxification of the body.1 Also a high fiber diet is not short on food options as fiber is found in many of your favorite fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains you consume already.2, 3 If switching to high fiber foods seems a little daunting, you can always supplement it with alternatives. Just make sure that those nutritional supplements are diabetic appropriate (eg. Glucerna for Diabetes).5

How many types of fiber are there?

In terms of dietary fiber, there are two types, Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, apples, and barley, which forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion.1, 2 This gel also aids in slowing down absorption of glucose and when it hits the gut, it acts as a prebiotic for the gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria are responsible for maintaining normal nutrient absorption, immune system and bowel function. Insoluble fiber, found in whole-wheat flour, nuts, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, does not dissolve in water, but is attracted to it. It is the fiber that adds bulk to the stool to regulate bowel function. The less backed up you are in your gut, the less the other organs of your body will have to work to get rid of waste.3

Fiber is not just for bulking stool

By bulking, lowering lipoprotein cholesterol levels, slowing the absorption of sugar, and also coincidentally low in calories, a high fiber diet is more than just a bowel bulker for diabetics.1 Fiber being represented as something that is ‘not digestible’, is entirely not fair on how much it benefits the body. Yes, we do not have the necessary enzymes to digest it, but it is our gut bacteria that helps, which benefits them and in turn benefits us. This type of prebiotic fiber is called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).2 Bulking also has the function of binding waste from the liver and gallbladder from highly processed ingredients or non-food ingredients in food and passed directly out. Without a good fiber diet, it will strain the liver and gallbladder and let more items such as cholesterol remain in the bloodstream.1, 2

How much Fiber should a Diabetic really eat?

A diabetic should get about 35 to 50 grams of fiber per day, but it all depends on personal health needs. More fiber is required if a diabetic is also looking for weight loss or a little less if you experience excessive gas. As per fiber content per amount of calories in a day, it comes down to 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1000 calories minimum in a typical 2000 calorie per day diet.1, 2 A high fiber is not short on food options, you only have to choose healthier versions of the foods you eat. For example, eat whole grains instead of white rice and load up on vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. In other words, the fresher the food is, the more fiber content it retains.3 This makes avoiding bad quality fiber foods like canned, highly processed foods, pulp free packed juices, and white breads easy. This in turn produces a question where it asks if nutritional supplements enriched with fibers can make up for fiber content in a diabetic diet. The answer is yes, so as long as it is diabetic specific.2 For example, Glucerna for Diabetes, No.1 Doctor Recommended Diabetes Nutritional Formula in the US~ has a unique Dual Fiber blend with Oat Fiber and FOS, low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol-free and Trans-fat free, making it an appropriate fiber supplement for diabetics. 2, 5

A high fiber diet is beneficial for a diabetic because it can help regulate glucose, lower cholesterol absorption, detoxification, and keep the bowels healthy to improve immunity at the same time. Because fiber is in almost all fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains, making the fiber diet switch is actually easier than it looks. You just have to make the choice, but you may also use nutritional supplements to replace the fiber from food you cannot eat. With a combination of an Advanced Carbohydrates system^ of low GI ingredients and 4 times Myo-inositol^, a micronutrient responsible for insulin activity, Glucerna can help control blood glucose in 4 weeks + #. Start your diabetic management action from day 1# and have Glucerna as a part of your high fiber diabetic meal plan.4, 5

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 References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  2. https://diabetesaction.org/article-fiber
  3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/type-2-diabetes-live-better-guide/fiber-rich-foods-pictures/
  4. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/diabetes/inositol
  5. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/products/page/glucerna-triple-care

Additional Readings:

  1. https://glucerna.ca/en/products

^    Jenkins – 1982

+Peng et al. 2019.

“IQVIA, using the ProVoice Survey, fielded to 13,040 physicians from November 1, 2022 to October 31, 2023 and recorded the OTC product recommended most often in the Diabetic Nutrition Supplement category, has validated the following claim at a 99% confidence level.”