Why Is Fiber Important To Diabetes

Having diabetes can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Evidence shows that increasing your intake of fiber, especially cereal and whole grains, can help reduce the risk of cardio-metabolic diseases (this includes cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and obesity) and colorectal cancer.

Higher intake of oat bran also leads to lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

Dietary fiber absorbs fluid and increases the bulk of waste matter, making your stools softer and easier to pass. Foods higher in soluble fiber have a particular role in reducing blood cholesterol. Increasing your dietary fiber can also help with managing your weight. These foods are filling and most are lower in glycaemic index (GI), which can help to control your appetite and have less of an effect on blood glucose levels.

How to increase your daily intake of fiber?

To achieve the new SACN guidelines, we need to aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. We need to try to base our meals around starchy carbohydrates, choosing wholegrain varieties, and include high-fibre snacks.

High-fibre snacks include:

  • Plain oat cakes
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Yogurt with berries and pumpkin seeds

Keep an eye on the portion sizes when you are eating these snacks, especially if you are watching your weight. To increase your fibre intake even further, add salad or vegetables to your lunch or main meal.

Children and fiber

You can help your children to increase their fiber intake with the following ideas:

Offer fruits or a small portion of dried fruit as a snack.
Blitz vegetables in a tomato sauce and serve with pasta. Why not introduce them to whole wheat pasta? Perhaps start with a mixture of white and whole wheat.
Offer wholegrain cereals for breakfast, or even add some high-fiber, bran-based cereal to their favourite choices.
A smoothie made with milk and frozen berries as a snack or try frozen yogurt with berries as a sweet treat.

Shopping tips

You can compare the back of pack nutritional labels on pre-packed foods and choose the food with the higher amount of fiber. At times this information may not be available, but there are other ways of choosing foods high in dietary fiber:

Look for words such as ‘whole meal’, ‘whole wheat’ and ‘wholegrain’ on labels. Wholegrain carbohydrates tend to be higher in fiber and lower in GI, which means they have less of an effect on your blood glucose levels.
Choose whole meal, seeded or multi-grain bread  – these are higher in fiber than white varieties. Brown bread is not as high in fiber as whole meal.
Instead of white pasta or rice, choose the brown/whole wheat type.
Go for beans, pulses and lentils – buy tinned to save on cooking time and add to casseroles, soups, salads and curries.
Choose oat-based, bran or wholegrain breakfast cereals.
Buy a selection of interesting and seasonal fruit and vegetables to help you aim for your five-a-day target.
Couscous and quinoa, which are whole grains, are a great source of fibre.
Aiming for 30g a day may feel like a lot. As long as you try to increase your intake aiming to meet the recommendation slowly, you will be on the right path. Always speak to your healthcare professional before changing your diet. 


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