Diabetes can be a challenge to manage. Decisions about what to eat to avoid sugar spikes can be overwhelming as some foods elevate sugar levels quite faster than others. Did you know that fiber can help in managing diabetes? When many people hear the word “fiber” the first thing that might come to mind is “improving bowel movements” but fiber is not just limited to that. Here’s a brief takeaway about how fiber can help in controlling blood sugar levels:
Fiber is an important dietary source to include in our diet. However, most adults do not meet the recommended fiber needs. Fiber is categorized as a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by the body. Sources of fiber may include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is especially crucial to diabetics because it helps to control how the body utilizes sugar. More importantly, since the body is unable to digest fiber, this type of carbohydrate, unlike other forms of carbohydrates, does not cause sudden elevation of blood sugar. As a result, blood sugar is able to be maintained in normal ranges when fiber is consumed. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should focus on consuming at least 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should focus on consuming at least 38 grams of fiber per day. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is defined as a type of fiber that dissolves in water and appears like a gel in the stomach thus slowing digestion. Since digestion is slowed, blood sugar is unlikely to rise quickly thus remaining within normal range. Some food sources containing soluble fiber include: beans, oats, apples, bananas, and avocados. Insoluble fiber, as opposed to soluble fiber, does not dissolve in water but rather remains in its whole, solid form as it goes through the stomach. Insoluble fiber helps to regulate and produce normal, regular, healthy bowel movements. Additionally, insoluble fiber aids in insulin sensitivity thereby monitoring how the body is responding to the hormone-insulin- which helps to regulate blood sugar. Some food sources containing insoluble fiber include: nuts, seeds, bran and the skin of fruits such as bananas.
If you are one that has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important for you to be informed of the benefits of including fiber in your daily dietary regimen as the benefits of fiber can help you to manage your diabetes. For more information, consult your dietitian on ways to incorporate fiber in your meal planning. Be on the way to a healthier you!