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Fiber may help fend off diabetes

Jars of dried beans, corn and cereals.

April 18, 2024—You probably know that fiber can help relieve constipation and improve digestive health. Research has also shown that getting enough fiber in your diet can help you keep both blood sugar and weight in check. The latest science reveals even more good news. According to the American Stroke Association, a high-fiber diet is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in Hispanic adults.

Key findings from the research

This new research was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. Researchers looked at data from more than 11,000 Hispanic adults who took part in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.

Here are some highlights:

  • Hispanic adults who ate more fiber were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • A fiber-rich diet was linked to the presence of "good" gut bacteria. These beneficial bacteria produce certain metabolites in the blood that have positive health effects.
  • Both the favorable gut bacteria and their metabolites are associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

How fiber can help prevent or manage diabetes

Researchers aren't sure exactly how fiber works to prevent diabetes. This new study doesn't prove cause and effect, and more research on different populations is needed. But, according to researchers, the new study suggests that fiber is likely to:

  • Feed beneficial gut bacteria that lower diabetes risk in a variety of complex ways.
  • Help reduce inflammation.
  • Improve metabolism and insulin secretion.

Easy ways to eat more fiber

Most people only get half the fiber they need, according to the National Institutes of Health. Women should aim to get about 25 grams a day, and men should try to consume 31 grams a day.

Adding more fiber may be easier than you think. Up your intake slowly—a sudden increase in fiber can trigger bloating, gas or other digestive distress. To get started:

  • Make the most of breakfast. Choose fiber-packed oatmeal or a cereal with five grams of fiber or more per serving.
  • Go whole grain. Swap white bread for whole-wheat, use brown rice instead of white and trade traditional pasta for whole-grain versions.
  • Add extra vegetables. Choose non-starchy, fiber-rich options, including broccoli and leafy greens.
  • Feast on beans. Pinto, garbanzo, lima and kidney beans are chock-full of fiber.
  • Snack on fiber. Fruit, nuts and seeds all add fiber to your day between meals.

Fill up on fiber

Adding fiber to your plate doesn't mean giving up flavor. In fact, the fiber content of some of your favorite foods might come as a pleasant surprise. Dig in to our infographic and discover a dozen more delicious options.


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