National Diabetes Month: The Role of Dietary Fiber for Diabetics

National Diabetes Month: The Role of Dietary Fiber for Diabetics

It's generally recommended that we consume about 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories, about 28 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. More fiber is generally better and gastroenterologists, dietitians and diabetes educators tend to recommend closer to the 50 gram range. This recommendation is given without much regard to calories because high-fiber foods are generally low-calorie and many individuals take in fewer calories as they age, but still need plenty of fiber.

Let’s look at a typical individual who would benefit from more dietary fiber.

59 year old female, 5’2” tall, 248 pounds

  • Pre-Diabetes, Low Vitamin D, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Constipation
  • History of Diverticulitis; follows the low-fiber diet as she did in the hospital when she was initially sick 10 years ago.
  • Complains of pain in ankles, knees and hips and has decreased night time trips to the bathroom by decreasing her fluid intake. No one ever told her she needed a high-fiber diet.
  • Minimal cooking: Breakfast: instant oatmeal (2g) Lunch: sandwich (6g) Dinner: frozen microwave dinner (5g).
  • Skips meals to cut calories; Treats include drive-thru hamburger or fried chicken twice a week.
  • OWNS A NUTRIBULLET! Still in the box. Was a Christmas present last year!
  • Loves fruits and vegetables! Has a bag of flaxseed in the freezer and chia seeds in the pantry. There are plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer and there are a few out-of-the-garden potatoes, onions and some leafy greens on the counter top. Oh, and carrots, parsnips and celery still in the garden. She lets the neighbors and church have the produce straight from the garden.

Increasing fiber with the help of her NutriBullet is a simply natural solution! Her typical daily fiber intake is about 10 grams. Her fiber goal is near 50 grams.

By making one NutriBlast with 1/2 cup of ice, a tablespoonful of flaxseed (3g), a teaspoonful of chia seeds (11g), a large parsnip (7g), a large carrot (4g), a tomato (2g) or an apple (3g), 1/2 a celery stalk (0g) or 1/4 of a cucumber (0g), a high-fiber vegetable juice can be ready in a minute.

Here is how this one simple, fiber-rich (25+ grams) vegetable Blast can benefit this individual.

Obesity

A weight loss of 10 percent (24 pounds) is recommended, according to the American Diabetes Association Guidelines and her surgeon has requested it before attempting joint replacement surgeries.

Set a schedule for frequent small snacks or meals and include at least 10 grams of fiber at meals and 5 grams of fiber at snacks. This will prevent excessive appetite.

Pre-Diabetes

Fiber, especially soluble fiber, is known to improve blood glucose values and improve insulin sensitivity.

High blood Pressure

Depending on the study, increasing dietary fiber has been shown to reduce blood pressure from 1-6mm/Hg in those with hypertension.

High Cholesterol

Certain fibers, like psyllium and oat fiber, have proven effective in reducing cholesterol levels. As little as 3 grams of oat or 7 grams of psyllium show positive effects on elevated cholesterol numbers. You might consider adding a scoop of oat bran, a few drops of cinnamon-raisin-flavored extract and 1/2 banana to your NutriBullet. Use this as a topping on a whole grain waffle with the other 1/2 of the banana sliced on top. Delicious and nutritious!

Low Vitamin D

By altering the pH (acid/base) level in the gut, fiber, especially prebiotics, have been shown to improve circulating levels of Vitamin D and calcium absorption.

Painful Walking (Degenerative Joint Disease)

By improving the uptake of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients, fiber in the form of prebiotics can work to improve the body’s overall levels and utilization of these important nutrients, thereby helping with inflammation and stiffness in joints.

Constipation/Frequent Nighttime Urination

Repeated studies have shown that both soluble and insoluble fiber help resolve and prevent constipation.

Increasing fiber will cause fluids to be pulled into the intestine, softening the stools and decreasing to some extent the amount of fluid filtered through the kidneys and into the bladder.

Drinking fluids early in the day is a habit that's easy to maintain. Eight cups (64 oz) of fluid each day is important, but as we age, a little less may suffice as long as bowel movements are maintained.

Diverticulitis/Diverticulosis

About 0-10 grams of fiber per day is appropriate during bouts of diverticulitis. A gradual return to an intake of 30-50 grams per day is typically well-tolerated and encouraged to prevent relapses of diverticulitis.

An average cup of fruits or vegetables has about 5 grams of fiber, whereas the same amount of beans, peas, or lentils has more than 10 grams of fiber. Enjoy some of both frequently.

Soluble fiber plant foods include legumes, nuts and seeds, oats, rye, chia, barley, some fruits (including prunes, plums, berries, ripe bananas and the skins of apples, quinces and pears), avocados, certain vegetables, including broccoli, carrots and Jerusalem artichokes, root tubers and root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and onions (skins of these are also sources of insoluble fiber), psyllium seed husks (a mucilage soluble fiber) and flax seeds.

Insoluble fiber plant foods include whole grain foods, wheat and corn bran, legumes, such as beans and peas, nuts and seeds, potato skins, vegetables, such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini (courgette), celery and nopal, unripe bananas and the skins of some fruits, including kiwifruit, grapes and tomatoes.

Good luck and let's Blast our way to health!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator


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