Fibre's had a pretty bad rap. Most of us think of it as that boring stuff Grandma eats to help her go to the toilet. But the science shows that fibre is so much more than just keeping us "regular".
One of fibre’s most underrated benefits is that it can stabilise blood sugar spikes and restore insulin sensitivity. For this reason, fibre is a powerful and accessible dietary tool that we can use to reduce our risk of developing, or even reversing, Type 2 Diabetes (diabetes).
Today, November 14, is World Diabetes Day. To raise awareness, we delve into the science behind fibre and why doctors and dietitians are urging their patients with diabetes to consume more of the stuff.
What happens to our blood sugar when we eat?
When we eat a high sugar or carbohydrate-containing meal, it’s broken down into its simplest form: glucose.
The rate at which glucose is released into the bloodstream is called its glycaemic index. Foods that cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels are said to have a high glycaemic index (GI). An example is the refined carbohydrates found in white bread, cakes, cookies, rice, and pastries.
The rise and fall of blood glucose is normal when we eat. But repeated or prolonged blood glucose spikes (hyperglycaemia) can be dangerous for people with diabetes, and may cause permanent damage to the nerves in your hands and feet, eyes, and life-threatening conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis.
What’s the role of fibre for diabetes?
Firstly, fibre slows the digestion and absorption process, leading to a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream and a lower GI. This prevents blood sugar spikes and allows insulin (the glucose storage hormone) to do its job more efficiently.
Secondly, when we consume fibre, it’s not actually food for us. It’s food for the trillions of gut microbes that reside in our large intestine. These beneficial bugs break down fibre (calling fermenting) and produce anti-inflammatory substances called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The research tells us that SCFAs can reverse insulin resistance, a hallmark symptom of diabetes.
Where do I get fibre from?
To reap the benefits of fibre to help prevent, or reverse diabetes, you need to get enough of the right types of fibre.
Aim for 30-35g fibre daily from a diversity of sources, including:
- Wholegrains such as rye bread, oats, quinoa, and barley
- Colourful fruits and vegetables
- Mixed nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, linseed
- Prebiotic vegetables found in chicory root, asparagus, onion, garlic, leek, and artichokes
- Cooked and cool starches, such as cold potato salad, leftover pasta, or microwave ready-made rice sachets.
Looking to stabilise your blood sugars?
Research is an essential part of what we do here at myota. We’ve spent a great deal of time and research to study combinations of fibres that produce the greatest benefits to glucose responses. As a product of this research, we’ve formulated the Metabolic Regulator mix. This mix is part of two on-going clinical trials in Type 2 Diabetes in collaboration with the NHS.
Find out more on our product page.