Extra Fiber Curbs Blood Sugar Woes
Researchers found that eating a diet high in diverse types of fiber led to improved blood glucose, better lipid levels and more weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes. Evidence showed the fiber could re-balance the bacterial community in the gut that help in food digestion and play an important role in overall health.
“Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment,” said lead author Liping Zhao, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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Diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease because it can often be prevented through eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. In the disorder that affects 30 million Americans, either the pancreas makes too little of the hormone insulin or the body doesnt respond well to it. Insulin is needed for glucose to enter the cells, where its used as energy.
Many strains of bacteria in the gut break down dietary fiber and synthesize short-chain fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, help control appetite and nourish cells that line the intestines. An insufficient amount of short-chain fatty acids has been linked to type 2 diabetes. Moreover, earlier studies indicate that increasing fiber in the diet can benefit type 2 diabetes.
In the new study, the research team randomly divided the participants into two groups. The control group was given standard patient education and dietary recommendations, while the intervention group received a diet similar to the control group with the inclusion of a large quantity of diverse dietary fiber.
High-Fiber Diet Led to Healthier Blood Glucose, Lipids and Weight
During the 12-week treatment, the intervention group showed greater reductions in blood glucose levels and a quicker drop in fasting glucose levels than the control group. They also had better lipid levels and increased weight loss. A key finding was that the benefits were directly due to healthful changes in the gut bacterial community.
Of the 141 strains of bacteria in the gut that produce short-chain fatty acids, a mere 15 were promoted by eating more fiber; therefore, these are likely to be vital agents in promoting better health. The high-fiber diet increased their numbers and they became the principal strains in the gut after they raised levels of the short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate. These acids made the gut environment mildly acidic, which reduced the numbers of harmful bacterial strains. This effect culminated in an elevation in insulin production and healthier blood glucose.
The discovery about dietary fiber opens a new channel for nutrition therapy in diabetes, Zhao tells MedicalResearch.com. He would like future research to investigate whether type 2 diabetes can be reversed by maintaining the strains of bacteria in the gut that produce short-chain fatty acids. The study was published in the journal Science.
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