A fiber-rich diet has long been recommended as a healthy diet. But, what is the reason for it to be so highly acknowledged? The main reason is that the fiber is made up of bulk that can’t be digested. This bulk prevents unhealthy cravings.
In addition, it can keep the digestive tract working properly. However, according to studies, dietary fibers play a crucial role in feeding the trillion microbes in our bodies.
These microbes are known as the microbiome.
Therefore, this kind of diet can prove beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. A fiber-rich diet with a beneficial gut microbiome can keep people’s blood sugar stable. Also, it can help them lose weight.
So, is fiber good for those with high blood sugar?
Is Fiber Good for Diabetes?
Chinese researchers managed to pinpoint a particular ‘’good’’ bacteria that can ferment fiber into acids and boost the regulation of insulin.
According to the lead investigator of the Mayo Clinic, Liping Zhao, these bugs can help create an acidic microenvironment that can be beneficial for the gut.
Moreover, the bacteria can help lower the blood sugar levels and keep pathogens at bay.
Supported by Studies
One study focused on why such a plant-based diet with a lot of fiber would be helpful with those with type 2 diabetes. One of the doctors who wasn’t involved in the study was an endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Clare Lee.
Dr. Lee studied the link between microbiome and diabetes. She claims that the study really understands the mechanistic reasons for the benefits of a fiber-rich diet, especially for those with type 2 diabetes.
This is an exciting step towards understanding the probable potential mechanisms that could be useful for treating and preventing diabetes, said Dr. Lee.
The Potential Benefits of High-Fiber Diet
People have been using a high-fiber diet for a long time. It proved to be beneficial for blood sugar, which is why many of those with diabetes were encouraged to eat it. However, the benefits of such a diet may be far more complex, said, scientists.
According to the director of the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center, Dry. Lynn Bry, there is plenty of evidence that suggests the microbes will help digest the food that our bodies can’t.
Therefore, if we are eating foods like whole grains, leafy greens, and fruits with fibers, it means that we are not feeding ourself, but the microbiota.
In a randomized trial, 27 volunteers with diabetes agreed to participate. They consumed huge quantities of dietary fibers (whole grains, prebiotics, and Chinese medicinal foods).
In addition, 16 of the volunteers had the same nutrient and caloric intake. However, they didn’t have the same supplemental fiber.
Moreover, both groups took a diabetes drug acarbose. Furthermore, the volunteers who followed a fiber-rich diet managed to lose weight and decrease their HbA1c levels.
These levels are a metric that gauges a patient’s blood glucose levels over the course of a few months.
In other words, the only difference the two groups had was the amount of fiber they consumed. Therefore, the benefits could only be attributed to the diet, said Zhao.
As a result, researchers decided to delve deeper and examine the microbial ecosystem of the volunteers before and after each dietary intervention.
They concluded that when the bacteria fermented the dietary fiber, the structure of the gut microbiome slightly changed.
When bacteria from the volunteers who consumed plenty of fiber was transplanted into the gut of a mouse, the ability to control the blood glucose significantly improved.
However, when the same volunteer’s pre-treatment gut bacteria was transferred, the blood glucose becomes more difficult to control.
The gut bacteria can digest dietary fibers and create a byproduct of short-chain butyric acids and fatty acetic acids. However, only 15 strains may survive in this newly created acidic environment.
According to Zhao, such ‘’foundation species’’ may have an excellent therapeutic use.
Moreover, results show short-chain fatty acids and a long-standing hypothesis like butyrate and acetate have a big role to play in controlling the blood glucose levels in humans. Even though the research is small, it was still very sufficient, said Lee and Bry.
Lastly, they suggested that some alterations to the microbiome may have a significant impact on diseases such as diabetes.
According to Bry, there are plenty of ways people can change the microbiota, but the easiest and most effective way is to focus on a fiber-rich diet. For now, we have to take the next step for this research, said Zhao.
This is the only way we can examine the changes in the microbiome and see if it could be useful for dealing with diabetes.