Health Watch -- Fiber and Diabetes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Adding whole grains to your diet may help protect you from diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise in the United States in recent years. This condition occurs when insulin no longer effectively regulates blood sugar. Before people develop diabetes, however, they usually first develop symptoms that may lead to diabetes. These symptoms are grouped as the metabolic syndrome, and they include excess weight in the abdomen, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and low levels of good cholesterol. Preventing the metabolic syndrome from developing is a good way to prevent diabetes.

Researchers have found that people who eat about three servings of whole grains a day are less likely to develop insulin resistance or the metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, most Americans barely get one serving of whole grains a day. Many patients at risk for insulin resistance and diabetes are encouraged to eat low-carbohydrate diets, but this study demonstrates that not all carbohydrates are alike. Carbohydrates that come in the form of whole grains may be beneficial.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that a high-fiber diet helps diabetics better manage their blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends a diet incorporating fiber-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

To add grains to your diet, switch from white bread to whole grain bread and from white rice to brown rice.


March 2004