This post is part of a larger piece on diabetes and health presented in collaboration with the Kettering Health Network Joslin Diabetes Center. Click here to read it from the beginning.
Managing Diabetes: The Importance of Fiber
Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar. Fiber can be found in a variety of foods, but ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends getting most of your fiber from fruits and vegetables. The sugars in fruits and vegetables are healthier than the refined sugars in processed food items.
“Fiber is basically the part of plant food that we don’t absorb that goes right through us,” said Studer. “There are two kinds, one is called soluble fiber and one is called insoluble fiber.”
Studer suggested eating at least two vegetarian meals per week to help increase fiber to recommended dietary levels.
“If you eat an orange you are getting a more natural kind of sugar, and you are getting fiber and that fiber slows down your body’s absorption of the sugar,” explained Studer. “What happens is your blood sugar levels out, instead of shooting up, which can cause your pancreas to excrete a whole bunch of insulin, leading to a crash in blood sugar and actually increasing hunger.”
The source of fiber Americans are most familiar with – though not familiar enough with – is whole grains. Other sources include 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries and oatmeal. Oatmeal in particular contains soluble fiber that can also lower cholesterol.
It is important to note that meat does not contain fiber. Studer recommended beans as protein and fiber-rich alternative to the protein most Americans get from meat. However, she suggested that canned beans be washed to cut down on salt, which is connected to high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.