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Diabetics benefit from high fiber diet

DALLAS, TEXAS. The American Diabetes Association recently revised its dietary guidelines for patients with diabetes so as to include 20-35 grams per day of dietary fiber. It is estimated that the current intake of dietary fiber in the United States averages only about 16 grams per day. A team of American and German medical researchers now report that even higher fiber intakes than those recommended by the ADA can be highly beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes. Their study involved 13 patients who were randomly assigned to follow one of two diets. Diet 1 provided eight grams of soluble fiber and 16 grams of insoluble fiber per day while diet 2 provided 25 grams of soluble and 25 grams of insoluble fiber. Both diets provided 2308 kcal/day of which 15 per cent was protein, 55 per cent carbohydrates, 7 per cent saturated fat, 17 per centcis-monounsaturated fat (olive oil), and 6 per cent polyunsaturated fat. The study participants received each diet for six weeks and then crossed over to the other diet after a one-week washout period. At the end of the experiment the researchers found that patients on the high fiber diet had improved their glucose control as indicated by a 10 per cent lower plasma glucose concentration and a 12 per cent lower plasma insulin concentration (area under the curve for 24-hour measurement). In addition, the patients on the high fiber diet also lowered their total cholesterol level by 6.7 per cent, their triglycerides by 10.2 per cent, and their LDL cholesterol concentration by 6.3 per cent.

The researchers conclude that dietary guidelines for diabetics should emphasize an overall increase in dietary fiber through the consumption of unfortified foods rather than the use of fiber supplements. Dr. Marc Rendell, MD of the Creighton Diabetes Center supports this conclusion in an accompanying editorial and adds that combining a high-fiber diet with the use of foods with a low glycemic index effectively lower blood glucose concentrations synergistically.
Chandalia, Manisha, et al. Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 342, May 11, 2000, pp. 1392-98
Rendell, Marc. Dietary treatment of diabetes mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 342, May 11, 2000, pp. 1440-41 (editorial)

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