Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

More Fiber, Less Diabetes Medicine?

By
WebMD Health News

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 Dallas.

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 cholesterol levels.

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 in Dallas.

Vital Information:

  • 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 management.

     

 

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections