Q: My friend told me that eating more fiber would help control my blood glucose. Is this true?

A: Fiber can help stabilize your bloodglucose. There are two major typesof fiber: water soluble and insoluble.Foods high in soluble fiber in particularcause fewer rises in blood glucose aftermeals, because the fiber is digested slowly,delaying the absorption of carbohydrates.

Fiber is found only in plant foods, whichalso contain beneficial vitamins, mineralsand antioxidants. Because fiber adds bulkto the diet, it gives a feeling of fullnesswith fewer calories, which is helpful withweight management.

The American Dietetic Associationrecommends eating 20 to 35 grams of totalfiber each day whether you have diabetesor not. The American Diabetes Associationrecommends that if a food has morethan 5 grams of fiber per serving, youcan subtract the amount of dietary fiberfrom the total amount of carbohydrate inthe food. The experience of patients whotest glucose levels after meals suggeststhat this reduction in carbohydrates isquestionable since it doesn’t take intoconsideration the type of fiber, how muchthe food is processed or what the food iseaten with (for example, milk along witha high-fiber cereal). You might want tostart by subtracting half of the fiber andchecking your glucose after meals.

If you decide to add more fiber to yourdiet, do so slowly. Eating too much fiberwithout allowing your body time to adjustcould cause abdominal discomfort andgas. Be sure to drink enough water andnoncaffeinated liquids—at least 6 to 8cups daily—to prevent constipation.

Fiber Content of Selected Foods*

Food Portion Total Fiber in Grams Soluble Fiber in Grams Insoluble Fiber in Grams
Apple 3" diameter 5.7 1.5 4.2
Orange 3" diameter 4.4 2.6 1.8
Blackberries ½ cup 3.8 3.1 0.7
Pinto beans ½ cup cooked 7.4 1.9 5.5
Kidney beans ½ cup cooked 5.8 2.9 2.9
Soybeans ½ cup cooked 5.1 2.3 2.8
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 1.9 0.3 1.6
Rye bread 1 slice 1.5 0.8 0.7
Cheerios 1 cup 2.6 1.2 1.4
Oatmeal 1 cup cooked 3.8 1.8 2.0

*Source: Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Nutrition Fact Sheet: Fiber. Accessed from http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/nutrition/factsheets/fiber.html.

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