Fiber and Type-2 Diabetes
Many of us have heard that fiber is beneficial to our digestive health however high-fiber foods are also a healthy way to control high blood sugar and blood cholesterol.
What is Type-2 Diabetes?
Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and in fact it is so common in India that the country is called ‘The Diabetes Capital of The World’.
It is a chronic condition affecting the body's ability to process sugar (glucose) for energy, leading to dangerously high levels of blood glucose.
It develops when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin- a hormone essential for bringing glucose into cells or when the pancreas produces less insulin than required for maintaining proper glucose balance.
How can fiber help to manage Diabetes?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereals.
Blood Glucose Control: Fiber passes through the digestive tract without undergoing digestion and doesn’t require insulin. This controls blood glucose levels.
Promote Weight Loss: Fiber-rich foods are low-calorie foods. Fiber stays in the stomach longer and causes longer periods of fullness. All this leads to weight loss. Weight loss can help control blood sugar levels and in some cases, can actually reverse diabetes.
Prevent Heart Disease: Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol particles in the small intestine and prevents these particles from entering the bloodstream. This reduces the risk of heart diseases.
How to Add Fiber to a Diabetic’s Diet
According to the American Diabetes Association, it’s recommended that women should consume about 25 grams and men should consume about 38 grams of fiber every day.
Amy Kranick, a well-known certified diabetes educator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says that a little knowledge about fiber sources and a little change in food habits can increase daily intake of fiber in our diet.
Vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes (beans and peas) remain the single largest sources of fiber in the diet for people with diabetes.
High-fiber vegetables include many of the green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, chard, arugula and even lettuces. Whole-grain sources of fiber include quinoa, barley, oats and rye. Legumes include beans like peas, soy, and lentils.
Wheat, though a regular grain in Indian food hasn’t shown any positive impact on blood glucose or level of cholesterol in people with diabetes.
Few quick sources of supplemental fiber include ground flaxseed, wheat dextrin-based fiber supplements like Myfy chopped nuts and oat bran. Fiber supplements like Myfy can be added to coffee, tea, water or added to yogurt, salads and vegetable medleys without changing the taste or colour or odour of the said food or drink.
Here it must be noted that an increase in fiber intake can help us to manage blood sugar levels but excess fiber intake can also be problematic. Excess fiber can lead to gas, bloating, cramping, and constipation. Our body takes time to adapt to the higher fiber content in food hence it is advisable to gradually increase fiber consumption till the required amount is matched.
It is noteworthy to remember that an increase in fiber intake should be balanced with an increase in physical activities and a higher fluid intake.