Type 2 diabetes could be avoided by people consuming a high-fiber diet, a new study concludes. Fiber intake from fruits, vegetables and cereal by people living in eight nations was compared with rates of new-onset Type 2 diabetes.
Cereal consumption was measured from a database containing information on the dietary habits of 350,000 people. Within this data, researchers found 12,403 confirmed cases of Type 2 diabetes. These cases were divided into four groups, depending on the amount of fiber eaten, and compared with records of 16,835 randomly selected subjects to serve as a control group. These patients were followed over the course of 11 years to examine how their health might have been affected by the intake of fiber.
Increasing consumption of dietary fiber could significantly reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, researchers determined. Those people eating more than 26 grams of fiber (slightly less than an ounce) were found to have an average diabetes risk 18 percent lower than those consuming just 19 grams (roughly two-thirds of an ounce) each day.
"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," Dagfinn Aune of the Imperial College London said.
Obesity is one of the main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, and too much weight was found to counteract the positive benefits of a high-fiber diet.
Although a correlation between a high-fiber diet and reduced diabetes risk was found in this study, this association was not enough to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. However, researchers believe a high-fiber diet could help people maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of 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," Aune said.
Cereals were found to be the main source of fiber in all nations except France, where vegetables were number one. Diabetes risk varied among food products, from a reduction of 16 percent among those consuming vegetables to 19 percent for cereal eaters. Eating fiber from fruit did not appear to lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, affecting millions of Americans, many of whom become dependent on injections. Usually striking adults, it is the result of insulin imbalance, preventing the body from properly managing glucose in the bloodstream.
Analysis of the role fiber can play in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes was profiled in the journal Diabetologia.