If you have diabetes, here’s why you should fiber up.
“Eat more fiber!” You hear it all the time, so you know that getting enough fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. But for people with diabetes, fiber is especially powerful. Not only can fiber help you manage your weight (by helping you stay full), but it also has a beneficial impact on your blood glucose levels.
How Does Fiber Help Improve My Blood Sugar?
There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber—found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains—keeps your digestive tract running smoothly. Soluble fiber—found in oatmeal, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and peas—may help lower your cholesterol and improve blood glucose control. (Sick of oatmeal? Give these other high-fiber breakfast staples a try.)
Fiber is a carbohydrate, but unlike sugars and starches, it’s not easily digested the body. As soluble fiber moves through your intestines, it mixes with water and forms a gel-like substance, which prevents macronutrient (read: carb) absorption. This slows down digestion which helps moderate how much sugar is going into the blood.
Bonus: Since the fiber in your whole wheat bread passes through undigested, you can actually subtract those fiber grams listed from the total carb count you see on the nutrition label. Cha-ching!
How Much Fiber Should I Eat?
One University of Texas study showed that people with diabetes who ate 50 grams of (mostly soluble) fiber a day were able to control their blood glucose better than those who ate about 24 grams. While that’s a great number to aim for, most Americans only eat about half the daily recommended amount for adults—which is 20 to 35 grams per day—and upping your fiber intake too rapidly could give you some digestive troubles. “When you’re looking to add fiber to your diet, you don’t want to add it all at once because that can be uncomfortable,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City. Slowly incorporate fiber into each meal, like eating a piece of fruit with breakfast, or swapping in one of those whole grain options instead of white rice or pasta. With more fiber in your diet, you also need to make sure you’re drinking enough water to help your body flush out your system (a.k.a., to avoid constipation).
Now that you’ve tackled fiber, arm yourself with these other key rules for eating well with diabetes.
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:02,589
00:00:02,589 --> 00:00:07,310
Fiber is very important to include in
the diet of a person with diabetes.
00:00:07,310 --> 00:00:08,738
And, I will say everybody.
00:00:08,738 --> 00:00:11,384
Not just because you have
diabetes you need to have fiber,
00:00:11,384 --> 00:00:12,849
everybody needs to have fiber.
00:00:12,849 --> 00:00:18,333
00:00:18,333 --> 00:00:22,062
But, it's important because it
helps to lower your blood glucose,
00:00:22,062 --> 00:00:25,160
it helps to reduce weight,
if that's one of your goals.
00:00:25,160 --> 00:00:29,520
So it gives you so many benefits that it's
definitely important that you include it
00:00:29,520 --> 00:00:30,900
all the time in your meals.
00:00:30,900 --> 00:00:35,470
Some examples of high-fiber
foods are definitely vegetables.
00:00:35,470 --> 00:00:38,410
Other foods that have fiber are,
for example, popcorn.
00:00:38,410 --> 00:00:41,230
Not the one that come with the butter
though, the one that you make at home.
00:00:41,230 --> 00:00:46,550
Fruits, for example, and
all whole grain products,
00:00:46,550 --> 00:00:49,570
like the brown rice,
the whole wheat pasta,
00:00:49,570 --> 00:00:54,310
whole wheat bread, quinoa, for example.
If you have diabetes,
00:00:54,310 --> 00:00:56,250
I want to tell you about pulses.
00:00:56,250 --> 00:00:59,720
So if some people don't know what
a pulse is other than [LAUGH]
00:00:59,720 --> 00:01:00,760
what's here on their wrist.
00:01:00,760 --> 00:01:05,670
But pulses include lentils,
garbanzo beans, and other beans,
00:01:05,670 --> 00:01:07,030
and also dried peas.
00:01:07,030 --> 00:01:09,430
So not fresh peas but dried peas.
00:01:09,430 --> 00:01:15,370
And these foods have a very
unique combination of protein,
00:01:15,370 --> 00:01:18,690
carbohydrates that are slow burning.
00:01:18,690 --> 00:01:23,030
And several studies have shown that
if you increase your intake of pulses
00:01:23,030 --> 00:01:26,088
it can actually really help you
control your blood sugar levels.
00:01:26,088 --> 00:01:28,650
So many foods that give you more fiber
00:01:28,650 --> 00:01:30,920
is gonna help you with your
digestive system as well.
00:01:30,920 --> 00:01:33,280
As we start changing the diet and
00:01:33,280 --> 00:01:38,420
we start introducing more fiber into
the diet, they find a relief on that.
00:01:38,420 --> 00:01:43,290
They can go to the bathroom easier, they
have more frequent bowl movements that
00:01:43,290 --> 00:01:47,640
are softer, and it's because of the fiber.
When you're looking at adding fiber to
00:01:47,640 --> 00:01:51,920
the diet, you don't wanna add it all at
once, because that can be uncomfortable.
00:01:51,920 --> 00:01:54,870
And also with more fiber,
you need more water.
00:01:54,870 --> 00:01:58,300
So you also need to get in the habit
of drinking more water but
00:01:58,300 --> 00:01:59,870
add fiber throughout the day.
00:01:59,870 --> 00:02:02,950
Don't think that you're gonna have some
mega salad at the end of the day and
00:02:02,950 --> 00:02:03,700
pack it all in.
00:02:03,700 --> 00:02:08,550
Start with breakfast and
add some whole grain cereal, some fruit,
00:02:08,550 --> 00:02:12,440
berries are fantastic for diabetics
because they're actually low glycemic.
00:02:12,440 --> 00:02:17,260
And then maybe for a snack you're gonna
have another piece of fruit with a cheese
00:02:17,260 --> 00:02:21,810
stick to also help mitigate
the rise in your blood sugar.
00:02:21,810 --> 00:02:29,140
Lunch time could be like a brown rice bowl
with some lean protein and vegetables.
00:02:29,140 --> 00:02:31,860
And then, another whole grain
snack in the afternoon.
00:02:31,860 --> 00:02:36,120
And then, at dinner, quinoa with
chicken and a side of broccoli.
00:02:36,120 --> 00:02:39,968
If we have diabetes, you really need the
same amount of fiber as everybody else,
00:02:39,968 --> 00:02:44,063
20 to 35 grams a day, but it's really
essential for controlling blood glucose.
00:02:44,063 --> 00:02:49,113
So for the rest of us folks out here
who are not getting enough fiber,
00:02:49,113 --> 00:02:50,626
that's not great.
00:02:50,626 --> 00:02:54,828
But if you have diabetes, you really do
wanna work on getting enough everyday.
00:02:54,828 --> 00:03:00,521
How Does Fiber Affect Glucose Levels? Joslin Diabetes Center. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at http://www.joslin.org/info/how_does_fiber_affect_blood_glucose_levels.html)
Soluble fiber vs. insoluble fiber. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus, 2017. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.htm)
Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fiber Consumption and Prevention of Diabetes. Berlin, Germany: Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Charité-University-Medicine-Berlin, 2008. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/3/439.long)