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High Fiber Diets Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Cereal, vegetable fiber most effective against development of type 2 diabetes…

Findings from 18 other studies throughout countries including the United States and Asia had previously found that fiber reduces type 2 diabetes. There was no indication as to the type of fiber that may be most likely to do this.

Dagfinn Aune, study author and PhD student affiliated with Imperial College London, and his colleagues found that individuals consuming more than 26 grams of fiber per day had an 18% reduction in the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Aune and fellow researchers recently published their findings after an average of 11 years of looking at data on 29,000 Europeans after also accounting for diet and lifestyle. “We are not certain why this might be, but potential mechanisms could include feeling physically full for longer, prolonged release of hormonal signals, slowed down nutrient absorption, or altered fermentation in the large intestine,” he said.

Researchers also suggest that the type of fiber is important. A 19% risk reduction was found with cereal fiber and 16% with vegetable fiber with cereal fiber as the main source of fiber in all European countries with the exception of France where the main source is vegetable fiber. They also noted that fruit fiber was not linked to a reduction in diabetes. Aune also believes other mechanisms may also be in play, for instance improving control of blood sugar and decreasing insulin peaks after meals, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

This study as with the other 18 studies found a diabetes risk reduction with the consumption of fiber. Whether high-fiber diets directly cause a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes by a specific mechanism or if the association is simply managing weight, the benefits are clear.

Practice Pearls:

  • Researchers found positive results in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes with high-fiber diets, but the specific mechanism is unclear.
  • Cereal fiber was associated with the greatest risk reduction at 19% followed by vegetable fiber at 16%.
  • Intake of fruit fiber was not associated with a diabetes risk reduction.

Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the EPIC-InterAct Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetologia. DOI 10.1007/s00125-015-3585-9