Diabetes and weight loss, fiber works wonders

A team of American and Chinese researchers have discovered that consuming dietary fiber helps stabilize blood sugar in diabetes through an effect on intestinal bacteria (microbiome).

In addition to a positive effect on blood sugar, this high fiber diet led to greater weight loss and better control of blood lipid levels. After 12 weeks, participants in the treatment (fiber) group had a greater reduction in blood sugar than the control group. Already after 28 days, 89% of patients in the fiber group managed to control their blood sugar compared to only 50% in the control group. Their fasting blood sugar also fell faster and they lost more weight.

More beneficial bacteria for the body

In the gut, many bacteria break down carbohydrates, such as dietary fiber, and produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish our gut cells, reduce inflammation, and help control appetite. A shortage of short-chain fatty acids has been linked to type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Surprisingly, of the 141 strains of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria identified, only 15 are promoted by consuming more fiber and are therefore likely to be key drivers of better health. Supported by the high fiber diet, they became the dominant strains in the gut after increasing levels of short chain fatty acids butyrate and acetate.

These acids created a mildly acidic digestive environment that reduced populations of harmful bacteria and led to increased insulin production and better blood sugar control. At the physiological level, short chain fatty acids are linked to an increase in the production of proteins such as GLP-1 which has the function of stimulating the production of insulins. In other words, the consumption of dietary fiber seems to have the ability to modify the composition of intestinal bacteria (microbiota) by increasing the proportion of bacteria beneficial to the body.

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This study lays the groundwork and opens up the possibility that dietary fiber targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become an important part of a good diabetic diet and part of treatment.

(DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5774).

Practical advice: always favor whole foods

A good way to increase your fiber intake is to eat fruits and vegetables regularly and always favor whole foods. That is to say, eat brown rice instead of white rice, brown bread instead of white or whole pasta instead of white.


Liping Zhao: Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes

. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5774


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