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Diabetes Health Center

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Fiber May Fight Diabetes

Diet Rich in Whole-Grain Cereal May Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 15, 2007 -- Eating fiber-rich, whole-grain cereal may not only keep you regular, but it may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A new study shows that people who had the most fiber from whole-grain cereals in their diet had a 27% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least. Fiber from other sources, such as fruits and vegetables, didn’t show a similar protective effect against diabetes.

Fiber Fights Diabetes

In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers followed a group of more than 15,000 men and women aged 35 to 65 for an average of seven years. The participants filled out a questionnaire with information on what they ate at the start of the study and were monitored for signs of diabetes.

During the study, 844 people developed type 2 diabetes. The results show that those who consumed more fiber from cereal, bread, and other grain products were less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate less cereal fiber.

For example, those who ate the most cereal fiber (an average of 16.6 grams per day) had a 27% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least (about 6.6 grams per day). No relationship was found between total fiber intake or consumption of other types of fiber, such as from fruits and vegetables, and diabetes risk. There also was no relationship found between magnesium intake and development of diabetes among the study participants.

The researchers note that consuming fiber may help with the body's ability to handle blood sugar. They also note that low magnesium has been linked to patients with type 2 diabetes.

To put their results into perspective, researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke also looked at 17 other studies on fiber and magnesium intake and diabetes risk. The pooled results of those studies showed that people who ate the most cereal fiber had a 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least.

In addition, those who ate the most magnesium had a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least.

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