Managing diabetes or prediabetes and reducing the risk of complications like heart disease can help you live a longer, healthier life. Part of managing your diabetes is incorporating a healthy diet, and fiber has been shown to help. Since diabetes can affect just about every part of your body, managing your blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol is important.
According to the CDC, more than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 don’t know they have it. In the past 20 years, the numbers have more than doubled for adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes. As of 2020, 88 million people 18 years and older have prediabetes, and those 65 years or older have it. So, how can you help manage this with a high-fiber diet?
Health Benefits of Fiber
Managing diabetes with fiber can help you control your blood sugar and get your weight under control, not to mention lowering your risk of heart disease. Here’s how:
- Fiber doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar as other carbohydrates can. Because of this, it can help you maintain your blood sugar target range.
- Fiber can help lower your triglyceride level as well as your cholesterol levels by preventing your body from absorbing fat and cholesterol, thus reducing your risk of heart disease.
- Fiber helps clean your digestive tract by cleaning out bacteria (and other buildup) which is important to improve gut health.
- Fiber can’t be digested, so it moves slowly, which gives you that “full” feeling longer.
- Fiber-rich foods are often low in calories, which means they may help with weight loss.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The USDA and Department of Health and Human Services dietary guidelines for Americans show that more than 90% of women and 97% of men do not meet the recommended intakes for dietary fiber since most Americans do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The recommended daily fiber intake varies by age and sex.
Getting More Fiber
While increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is a good thing, you’ll want to refrain from a sudden increase as it can lead to symptoms such as gas, constipation, bloating, cramps, or even diarrhea. Because of this, it is recommended that you increase your daily fiber intake slowly by adding a little more every other day.
A few ways to add more fiber to your diet include:
- Incorporate more whole grains like whole-grain bread, oatmeal, or ancient grains.
- Eat low-fat popcorn without the butter.
- Eat 3-5 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily.
- Eat unsalted nuts as a snack (approximately a handful).
The Bottom Line
Managing diabetes with a high-fiber diet above the recommended ADA levels can lead to improvement of glycemic control, lower plasma lipid concentrations, and decrease hyperinsulinemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Be sure to talk with your primary care provider today about how to manage your diabetes or prediabetes so you can reduce your risk of complications. Call CFMC in Yanceyville at (336) 694-9331, or JAHC in Eden at (336) 864-2795 to make your appointment.