One major missing component from the modern western diet is fiber and I don’t think we realize just how important dietary fiber really is. And believe it or not fiber and diabetes do have a very close relationship.
If we take ourselves back to our paleolithic ancestors and even some modern tribal populations in places like papua new guinea, the fiber intake was/is somewhere between 50-100g day. The current recommendations for us are around 30 g day, but majority of people don’t get anywhere near that amount, most people under 15 g per day!
The thing to understand is that most modern packaged foods are made with refined ingredients that are stripped of fiber. And this is very problematic because as I said fiber is important so let’s explore why.
Fiber Slows Blood Sugar Spikes
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, which means you have better control over your blood sugar levels. If you imagine that when you eat fiber it is indigestible so it creates like a lattice network in the gut that slows down the metabolism of nutrients, including carbohydrates.
Fiber Fills You Up
Fiber does fill us up more. In the weight loss programs I’ve run people have always reported feeling less hungry when they start eating more vegetables. More vegetables = more fiber and fiber does fill us up. This means it helps weight loss because generally foods with fiber like vegetables do have lower calories.
Fiber Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria
More and more research is pointing to the importance of our gut bacteria in the development of disease. In fact, the endotoxin produced from ‘bad’ bacteria in the digestive tract has been linked to promoting higher levels of insulin resistance. We all have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut but when we eat fiber rich foods like colorful vegetables we promote healthy species to thrive. We also minimize endotoxin and protect the digestive tract from dysfunction.
Fiber Improves Metabolism
Fiber makes us chew and we need to chew to stimulate enzymes and acids needed for proper digestion. An enzyme called salivary amylase is produced in the mouth when we chew and this has fat fighting properties and helps boost metabolism. Modern processed foods lack fiber and don’t promote chewing to occur, just eat, chomp, chomp, and swallow!
Fiber Keeps Your Regular
Healthy digestion is very important and lots of people with diabetes have intestinal complaints like diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, GERD, stomach pain, acid regurgitation and irritable bowel. Many of these complaints occur because of the lack of enzymes and acids we just mentioned above. So we need to chew fibers to produce these and stimulate digestion, assimilation and elimination.
Fiber Lowers Cholesterol
Studies show that eating soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol by binding bile and removing cholesterol out of the body. Beans and legumes are a source of soluble fiber. Other forms of soluble fiber include apples, nuts and seeds.
Where Is The Best Place To Get Fiber?
Plain and simple the best place to get fiber is to Eat MORE vegetables.
Eat different colors and different type as because the different polyphenols contain various benefits.
Vegetables are also the best form of fiber because they contain loads of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial properties we need. Vegetables contain around 2-3 g fiber per serve.
Whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes
We also get fiber from other plant foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains , beans and legumes, and fruits. It’s a common misconception that whole grains are high in fiber but they only contain around 1-2 g fiber per serve.
If you have diabetes it’s not a great idea to eat too many whole grains (see our healthy carb guide over here) so stick to vegetables, nuts, seeds, and small quantities of beans and legumes. Beans and legumes are great sources of soluble fiber and do provide lots of benefits but they are quite high in carbohydrates too, so you need to monitor quantities. Beans and legumes provide 6-8 g fiber per ½ cup serve.
The best fruits for diabetes are berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Having ½ cup serve of any of these is great but raspberries in particular are higher in fiber. Fruits provide around 2 g fiber per serve.
As you can see fiber is very beneficial for diabetes and the simplest way to get more fiber into your diet is to eat more vegetables!
If you don't know how to cook vegetables or think you don't like them, let us help with that. We have loads of delicious ways to eat veggies that everyone loves. Check out out membership options here.
What's your favorite vegetable dish?
Wishing you the best in health 🙂
Hyman, M. The Blood Sugar Solution. Little Brown and Company. 2012.
Mutzel, M. Belly Fat Effect. Wilsonville Media.. 2014.