Fiber Helps Type 2 Diabetics
~ August 2000 No.106 ~
A recent report by a group of American and German researchers has raised the question about the role dietary fiber can play in the treatment and control of Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is more formally referred to as noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). NIDDM is the most common form of diabetes mellitus in which sufferers bodies either do not produce enough insulin or their body cells are resistant to the action of insulin. It is most common in people over the age of 40. Most of the people who have this type of diabetes are overweight. NIDDM used to be called "adult-onset diabetes," "maturity-onset diabetes," "ketosis-resistant diabetes," and "stable diabetes."
Traditional therapy for type II diabetes placed emphasis on achieving glucose, lipid, and blood pressure goals. These goals are achieved through a good diet supplemented by a tool like the Dexcom [continuous blood glucose monitor], exercise and weight loss. Weight loss was another goal since weight loss and hypocaloric diets usually improve short-term glycemic levels. However, since long term weight loss is often not sustainable in patients, other means have been sought to improve their metabolism. Eating a healthy diet has always been advised and the fiber intake recommended for people with diabetes is the same as for the general population viz. daily consumption of a diet containing 20-35 g dietary fiber from a wide variety of food sources is recommended. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the medical researchers showed that when patients were put on a diet that contained 50 grams of dietary fiber (25 grams soluble and 25 grams insoluble) for 6 weeks their glycemic control was improved; they had decreased hyperinsulinemia and lowered blood plasma lipid concentrations compared to when they consumed a similar diet for six weeks that contained only 24 grams of fiber. The researchers emphasized that the high fiber diet was attained by careful selection of foods and did not include fiber fortified products. In an editorial in the same issue of the journal, Marc Rendell M.D.1 emphasized that fact that diet can be an important tool in the control of diabetes. He further stated that only if foods are attractive to patients will they be accepted and used, implying that if products are developed and marketed solely on their health benefits their full impact on the health of consumers may not be realized. Examples of fat substitutes and the addition of plant sterols to margarines were mentioned as products that appear to have been accepted by the consumer.
People with Type 2 Diabetes have known for some time the importance of their diet especially as a means of controlling / reducing their weight. Now, by adding foods rich in fiber to their diet, they may be able to further reduce the symptoms of this disease.
Chandalia et al., Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
NEJM 2 342: 1392-1398