Heading - Experts suggest a new high-fiber diet method to manage Type 2 Diabetes

Content:
Diabetes which is a condition with high blood glucose levels, is an ever increasing challenge in India.
One in seven adults with diabetes is from our country and we have a large population undiagnosed
with diabetes(1).
Where do you think we are going wrong?
India is undergoing a rapid nutritional transition. Our dietary patterns are moving towards excess
calories, unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and sodium with a low intake of fiber and protein.
Meals have been replaced by snacks in modern times and refined, processed foods which are low in
fiber are available freely at a cheaper cost than healthier options making them a preferred choice.
Such unhealthy dietary practices coupled with a sedentary lifestyle have led to an increase in obesity
and lifestyle-related disorders such as pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc(2).
So what can we change?
We need to get back to our traditional roots and consume a wholesome balanced diet which
comprises of good quality carbohydrates, adequate amount of protein, healthy fats, and lesser
intake of processed, refined foods high in sugar, salt, and trans fats(3).
Another dietary ingredient which has been seen as a boon for diabetes is ‘Fiber’. Many studies have
shown that adequate fiber intake reduces the risk of developing diabetes and helps to improve
blood glucose levels and HbA1c (quarterly test for assessing blood glucose control) in individuals
with pre-diabetes and diabetes(4). Fiber also helps in lowering blood cholesterol levels and reduces
the risk of heart disease(4).
Fiber gives you a feeling of satiety leading to suppression of appetite, promotes weight loss, and
improves the way the body uses insulin. Moreover, fiber decreases the glycaemic index of the meal
which helps lower post-meal blood glucose levels(4).
Starting a meal with a fiber and protein source followed by carbohydrate-containing foods has been
shown to blunt the post-meal blood glucose spikes. This practice can be replicated in all meals, for
example, you can have a salad or vegetable first with protein like yogurt/paneer/chicken/ egg/ fish/
or dal and then the remaining meal to achieve glucose levels in the desired target range(5).
While increasing fiber in the diet is important, it is recommended to step it up gradually. Adding a lot
of fiber to the diet too quickly can result in unpleasant side effects like bloating, abdominal
discomfort, and flatulence. Always couple fiber with adequate water to avoid these side effects(8).
Including adequate amounts of fiber in the daily diet by incorporating fiber-rich food sources may
prevent the onset of lifestyle diseases and their complications.
Time to fill up on fiber and keep diabetes at bay!


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References:
1. International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Regional Factsheet, Diabetes in South-East Asia in 2021,
Available at https://diabetesatlas.org/idfawp/resource- files/2021/11/IDF-Atlas-Factsheet-2021_SEA.pdf.
2. Ramachandran A, Snehalatha C, Kapur A, Vijay V, Mohan V, Das AK, et al. High prevalence of
diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in India: National Urban Diabetes Survey. Diabetologia.
2001;44:1094–101. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
3. The Nutrition Source, What to Eat, Harvard School of Public Health.
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/.
4. Puri S, Krishnaswamy S, Joshi S, Urooj A, Sharma N. Dietary Fiber and Health. Position of The
Indian Dietetic Association. 2018.
5. Alpana P. Shukla et.al, Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin
Levels, Diabetes Care 2015 Jul; 38(7): e98-e99.
6. Fiber, The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health.
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/.
7. How to get more fiber in your diet, Staying Health, Harvard Health Publishing,
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-get-more-fiber-in-your-diet.
8. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet, Nutrition and healthy eating,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983.
9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871402122000947