Fiber: The Amazing Diabetes Fighter

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Fiber has no sex appeal. The admonition to eat more “roughage” is as old as the hills. Heard it a fiber: the amazing diabetes fightermillion times. Been there, done that.

Problem is, most of you still aren’t doing it. In fact, though optimal health requires at least 30 g of fiber daily, Americans average one-third to one-half this amount. But if a highly touted drug had as many positive effects on health as fiber does, I guarantee you’d be taking it with every meal.

Most of you know that adequate fiber intake ensures regularity and protects against disorders of the colon, from constipation to hemorrhoids to cancer. But did you know that it also helps regulate blood sugar levels?

A high-fiber diet is one of the most powerful tools for the control of type 2 diabetes. Fiber slows absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, promoting a gradual rise in blood sugar levels, followed by a gradual release of insulin. It also improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, combating insulin resistance and helping insulin do its job of ushering glucose into cells.

In a study comparing a diet containing 24 or 50 g of fiber daily, blood glucose levels were reduced by 10 percent with the high-fiber diet—a blood sugar–lowering effect equal to that of oral diabetic drugs! This high-fiber diet had an additional benefit that diabetes drugs can’t match: It significantly reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

The best type of fiber for improving blood sugar control is soluble fiber—so called because it “dissolves” or forms a gel-like substance in water. Foods rich in soluble fiber include legumes, apples, and citrus fruits.

Another great form of supplemental fiber is the dietary supplement glucomannan. The suggested does is ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) mixed in an eight-ounce glass of water, two or three times daily, 30 minutes before meals (drink it quickly, before it thickens). Avoid glucomannan capsules because they may stick and expand in the esophagus.
 

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