Increasing Fiber Intake Can Reduce Diabetes Risk

shutterstock_162258005Adding fiber into your diet may just help cut the risk of developing diabetes. Researchers in a study suggest that consuming high dietary fiber can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The findings were recently published in the Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Cambridge University and Imperial College London evaluated data coming from the EPIC-InterAct Study, a larger European cohort study that covered eight countries. It is also the world’s largest study of new-onset type 2 diabetes, which includes some 350,000 participants.

The researchers sought to study the association between total fiber as well as fiber taken from cereal, fruit and vegetables and new-onset type 2 diabetes. While there were previous research that found an association between dietary fiber intake and reduces type 2 diabetes risk, most of the data came from the US. Dietary fiber intake may differ substantially from different countries. The researchers aim to determine whether amount and type of dietary fiber may have an effect on new-onset type 2 diabetes.

The researchers divided the study participants into four groups in equal sizes, based from the lowest to the highest fiber intake. The groups were also assessed for their risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the average of 11 years of follow up. For comparison, the researchers also conducted meta-analysis where the researchers combined the data they took with those coming from 18 independent studies conducted across the globe.

The researchers found out that the participants with the highest total fiber intake, an average of 26g/day or more, showed an 18 percent lower risk of developing diabetes as compared to those with the lowest fiber intake with an average of 19g/day or lower. The researchers came up with the numbers after adjusting for lifestyle, diet and other factors. But when the results were adjusted for Body Mass Index or BMI, high fiber intake was no longer associated with the reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

When the researchers further looked into the different fiber sources, cereal fiber proved to have the strongest association with the reduced diabetes risk, followed by vegetable fiber. Participants who had the highest cereal and vegetable fiber intake also showed 19 percent and 16 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, respectively, as compared to the groups with the lowest consumption of these fiber types. In contrast, fruit fiber intake did not show any association with a reduction in diabetes risk.

The researchers then used meta-analysis and combined the data from the EPIC-InterAct Study with those taken from independent studies from 18 other countries. It included eight studies from the US, four other studies in Europe, three from Asia and another three from Australia. The meta-analyses were able to add data coming from 41,000 new-onset cases of type 2 diabetes.

The results showed that the type 2 diabetes risk fell by 9 percent for every 10g/day increase of total fiber intake and by 25 percent for each 10g/day increase of cereal fiber intake. The researchers did not find any significant relationship with increase fruit or vegetable fiber intake with a reduction of diabetes risk.

According to Dagfinn Aune, a PhD student connected with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Imperial College London and one of the study authors, “Taken together, our results indicate that individuals with diets rich in fiber, in particular cereal fiber, may be at lower risk of type 2 diabetes. 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. All these mechanisms could lead to a lower BMI and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As well as helping keep weight down, dietary fiber may also affect diabetes risk by other mechanisms — for instance improving control of blood sugar and decreasing insulin peaks after meals, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.”

Source: Diabetologia. (2015, May 26). Increasing dietary fiber reduces risk of developing diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2015 from


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