More Fiber, Less Diabetes Medicine?
May 10, 2000 -- Diet can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes, but it
can also help keep it under control. Diabetics who eat more high-fiber fruit,
vegetables, and grains can improve their blood sugar control and may reduce
their need for additional diabetic medicine, researchers report in this week's
New England Journal of Medicine.
Lead author Manisha Chandalia, MD, tells WebMD that the high-fiber diet
reduced blood sugar levels as much as an additional dose of diabetes drugs
taken by mouth called hypoglycemic agents.
But a healthy diet doesn't have to equal boredom. Chandalia also says that
this can be done by following a very tasty menu that includes lots of
cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, papaya, raisins, lima beans, okra, sweet
potatoes, winter squash, zucchini, granola, oat bran, and oatmeal. Chandalia is
assistant professor of internal medicine in the VA Medical Center in
Chandalia tested the new diet in 13 people who have type 2 diabetes. Each
spent six weeks following the standard American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet
that includes 24 grams of fiber per day. They then followed a high-fiber diet,
which includes 50 grams of fiber per day, for another six weeks.
During the high-fiber weeks, the study subjects had major improvements in
the levels of sugar in their blood. They also had improvement in their
Chandalia tells WebMD that her study shows that diet should still be the
centerpiece in managing diabetes. She says that simple things can be done to
increase daily fiber intake, such as "eating whole wheat instead of white
bread, or eating an orange instead of drinking orange juice."
Vladimir Vuksan, PhD, who was not involved in the study, tells WebMD that
paying more attention to fiber may also increase the effectiveness of other
diabetic treatments. "This is a very fine, well-controlled trial that
clearly demonstrates the efficacy of dietary fiber in controlling type 2
diabetes. Other studies, including our own, have shown comparable effects, and
we think that fiber could be an effective [additional] therapy." Vuksan is
associate director of the Risk Factor Modification Center at St. Michael's
Hospital in Toronto.
One of Chandalia's colleagues involved in the study, Abihymanyu Garg, MD,
tells WebMD that adopting the high-fiber diet requires some changes in thinking
about meals. Garg says that some patients were initially intimidated by the
large servings of fruits and vegetables that are needed to bring dietary fiber
up to 50 grams per day. "They quickly got used to it, and nobody dropped
out," he says. "One patient even became quite fond of papaya, although
he had never eaten it before." Garg is associate program director of
general clinical research at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center
- Diabetics who eat a high-fiber diet can improve their blood sugar control
and may be able to take less medication.
- Fiber is found in a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, grapefruit,
oranges, papaya, raisins, lima beans, okra, sweet potatoes, winter squash,
zucchini, granola, oat bran, and oatmeal.
- One researcher argues that diet should be the centerpiece of diabetes