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Fiber can Fight Diabetes

Fiber Choices
Fiber Choices

Eating fiber has been shown to provide many long-term health benefits, but Americans are only eating about half as much as they should every day. Americans eat so little fiber that the bacteria in their gut is starving for more. Now researchers have found that eating more fiber can create beneficial changes in as little as two weeks.

The University of California Irvine did a study on 26 people. Researchers increased the fiber intake from an average of 21 grams a day to a little over 46 grams a day. Because fiber is a carbohydrate, the research subjects’ carbohydrate intake went up. However, the calories, fat and protein amounts didn’t significantly change.

Researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of the participants before and after. The scientists found that it caused a “significant impact ...on microbial community composition.” In other words, just increasing fiber for two weeks made a “significant” change on the participant’s guts.

The study was too short to determine if the changes in the guts of the subjects made any long-term difference on their health. But since the changes happened so fast, researchers did point to at least two groups of people that could get immediate benefits from the higher fiber diet; nursing home residents and cancer patients. More fiber could potentially reduce their risk of C. difficile infection.

Increasing fiber intake could have the most impact in contexts where low gut microbial diversity increases the risk of C. difficile infection, such as for nursing home residents and cancer patients or after antibiotic treatment.”

In 2017, the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study discovered another reason why more fiber was helpful. When you eat more fiber, your gut makes more of an anti-inflammatory chemical called indolepropionic acid. Here’s how that works.

Whole grains’ fiber stimulates gut bacteria. That bacteria takes protein-rich foods and converts the amino acid tryptophan into indolepropionic acid.

That’s important because participants in the Finnish study who did not develop diabetes had much higher blood levels of indolepropionic acid. That compound, indolepropionic acid, helps improve insulin sensitivity and increase insulin production, two things that protect against developing type 2 diabetes.

There was another benefit. Indolepropionic acid was also associated with lower levels of inflammation throughout the body, protecting against heart disease.

Between these two studies, researchers found that increasing fiber in your diet can lead to a healthier gut, lower your risk of infection, reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and protect against heart disease. All of those confirm similar studies that have been taking place over the last 30 years.

The tragic problem with modern dieters is that many think all carbohydrates are bad. Here’s where people get confused. Both sugar and fiber are carbohydrates. You have to learn to ignore the carbohydrates listed on the label and concentrate on SUGAR and FIBER separately.

According to the World Health Organization, a healthy person should get no more than 6-10% of their total calories from sugar. That works out to between 40 and 55 grams of sugar per person per day.

According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, the amount of fiber you should take in varies by your gender and age. Here’s what they suggest.

Age 18 - 50
51 and Over
Men   38 grams   30 grams
Women   25 grams   21 grams

Under the age of 18, use the "age plus five" rule for fiber intake. A 6-year-old would need 11 grams daily (6+5=11) and a 12-year-old would need 17 grams (12+5=17).

Remember those numbers are the minimums, so taking in more, as long as you don’t exceed your calories for the day, is fine.

Look for whole-grain products like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, rye and barley. Eat vegetables and fruit at least twice a day. Start now, and you’ll see benefits in as little as two weeks.

Reference Links:

High-Fiber, Whole-Food Dietary Intervention Alters the Human Gut Microbiome but Not Fecal Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Andrew Oliver, Alexander B. Chase, Claudia Weihe, Stephanie B. Orchanian, Stefan F. Riedel, Clark L. Hendrickson, Mi Lay, Julia Massimelli Sewall, Jennifer B. H. Martiny, Katrine Whiteson and Janet K. Jansson, Editor
American Society for Microbiology - mSystems March 16, 2021 | https://msystems.asm.org/content/6/2/e00115-21

Click Here for the Study


Indolepropionic acid and novel lipid metabolites are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study

Vanessa D. de Mello, Jussi Paananen, Jaana Lindström, Maria A. Lankinen, Lin Shi, Johanna Kuusisto, Jussi Pihlajamäki, Seppo Auriola, Marko Lehtonen, Olov Rolandsson, Ingvar A. Bergdahl, Elise Nordin, Pirjo Ilanne-Parikka, Sirkka Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, Rikard Landberg, Johan G. Eriksson, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Kati Hanhineva & Matti Uusitupa
Nature.com Scientific Reports 11 April 2017 | https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46337

Click Here for the Study

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