If you try to eat a healthy diet, you know how important fiber is. “It’s
amazing, how beneficial fiber is to the body—it can lower blood
pressure and cholesterol, and it decreases the risk of several health
problems, including obesity and heart disease,” says
Alex V. Zand, MD, an internal medicine physician
St. Joseph Hospital Affiliated Physicians in Orange. “And now, a new study reinforces fiber’s power
to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
The European study, published in
Diabetologia, looked at fiber intake and new-onset type 2 diabetes in eight countries,
as well as data gleaned from research in 18 other international studies.
Study participants who ate the most fiber had an 18 percent less chance
of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who didn’t get
as much fiber. The study authors suggest that fiber prevents weight gain,
which can lead to diabetes.
“This aligns with studies in the United States that also show a correlation
between low-fiber diets and increased type 2 diabetes risk,” Dr.
Zand says. “For instance, two Harvard studies found that the combination
of low-fiber and high-glycemic foods more than doubles the risk of type
2 diabetes compared to diets richer in fiber. In addition to promoting
a healthy weight, fiber can also keep blood sugar levels in check, which
can prevent diabetes.”
The latest study also found cereal fiber had the biggest effect on cutting
diabetes risk, by 19 percent, compared to a 16 percent decrease with fiber
found in vegetables. But any kind of dietary fiber is helpful, Dr. Zand
says. “Most Americans fall too short when it comes to getting the
recommended daily amount of fiber, which is 25 grams for women and 38
grams for men.”
Dr. Zand recommends a diet high in both kinds of fiber: soluble (which
helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar) and insoluble (which helps digested
food move through the body). Plant-based foods usually have both types
of fiber; Dr. Zand suggests beans, peas, vegetables, fruits, whole grains
and nuts as good sources for fiber.
“There are so many reasons why you should eat a high-fiber diet,
and so many types of foods that have fiber, that there’s no excuse
for not doing it,” Dr. Zand says.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.