High-fibre diet may curb type 2 diabetes risk


People who get a lot of fibre in their diet may be lowering their odds for type 2 diabetes, new research shows.

Feeling full for longer

"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," wrote study author Dagfinn Aune, a Ph.D. student affiliated with the Imperial College London in England.

His team, which published the findings May 26 in the journal Diabetologia, looked at data on more than 29,000 Europeans tracked for an average of 11 years.

Those with the highest amount of fibre in their diet (more than 26 grams a day) were 18 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest fibre intake (less than 19 grams a day), even after Aune's team accounted for other dietary and lifestyle factors.

Read: Causes of diabetes

Obesity – a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes – was key, however. The researchers said that when a person's body-mass index (BMI) – an estimate of body fat based on height and weight – was accounted for, the benefits of a high-fibre diet in warding off diabetes disappeared.

This suggests the dietary fibre may aid people by helping them maintain a healthy weight, which in turn lowers their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers said. The study only uncovered a link between a diet high in fibre and reduced diabetes risk, however; it did not prove cause-and-effect.

Still, when the researchers focused on specific types of fibre, they found that people who consumed the highest amounts of cereal and vegetable fibre were 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively, less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the lowest amounts of these types of fibre.

Cereals and vegetables

Cereals accounted for 38 percent of total fibre intake in the study, and were the main source of fibre in all countries except France, where vegetables were the main source of fibre.

Consumption of fruit fibre was not associated with a lower risk of diabetes, the study found.

The researchers also analysed the findings of 18 other studies from the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia. That analysis also found a lowering of type 2 diabetes risk as daily intake of fibre increased.

Read: Diagnosing diabetes

"Taken together, our results indicate that individuals with diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre, may be at lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Aune, who is also affiliated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said in a journal news release.

He believes other mechanisms may be at work as well, "for instance improving control of blood sugar and decreasing insulin peaks after meals, and increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin."

Two diabetes experts in the United States weren't surprised by the findings.

Fibre prior to a meal

"One piece of advice that I have given patients to enhance their weight-loss efforts is to consume fibre supplements prior to a meal in order to promote feeling 'full,' " said Dr. Maria Pena, an endocrinologist and director of the Centre for Weight Management at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Dana Angelo White, a registered dietician at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, agreed.

"A consistent intake of dietary fibre can help with both blood sugar and weight control," said White, who is also professor of athletic training and sports medicine at Quinnipiac.

Read: Treating type 2 diabetes

"As the study points out, cereal fibre is a good choice as are fruits, veggies and legumes to boost your intake. Those looking to up their fibre intake should do so gradually to prevent any unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms."

Read More:

Type 2 diabetes drugs linked to deadly ketoacidosis

Baby's gender may influence mom's diabetes risk

Overweight diabetic patients live longer

Image: Bowl with fibre cereal from Shutterstock

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