Fiber And Diabetes
How Fiber Can Help You Manage Your Diabetes
Most diabetics hopefully realize the importance of eating the proper diet to help manage their diabetes. However, one often overlooked or under emphasized aspect to the diet is fiber intake. Numerous studies show the importance of fiber for type 2 diabetics and how it can help to lower elevated blood sugar levels. Most studies suggest that diabetics should consume twice the daily fiber intake than what the American Diabetes Association suggests.
There are two different types of fiber in the foods we eat. The first is soluble fiber which easily mixes with water to form a gel. Soluble fiber can be found in pectin, oat, rice, and wheat bran, citrus fruits, and other fruits and vegetables. The second form of fiber is insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not mix easily with water and has a bulking effect on digestion.
Fiber is important for diabetics because it helps to slow down the breakdown and release of glucose into the blood stream. When eating a typical meal, carbohydrates quickly release and are metabolized into glucose which causes the blood glucose levels to spike. When eating adequate fiber, the carbohydrates break down slowly and instead of a quick spike in glucose, it remains balanced over a longer period of time.
The reason fiber is so important to people with diabetes is due to its roll in digestion. Fiber helps to slow the breakdown carbohydrates. Slow release carbohydrates means that glucose is not released as quickly into the bloodstream. When we eat enough fiber, there is less fluctuation in blood sugars with less highs and lows.
Another reason fiber is important for diabetics is because it helps to make the stomach feel full. This leads to less overeating which means less calories and carbohydrates per meal. Higher fiber meals also encourage more frequent, smaller sized meals which is ideal for diabetics.
Most studies on fiber and diabetes suggests that people with type II diabetes should double what the ADA recommends. This means that instead of consuming 24 grams of fiber a day, it should be increased to 45-50 grams per day. Keep in mind, it is not a good idea to just jump into the high fiber diet, instead, gradually increase your fiber intake by 3 grams per day until you reach your goal.