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Dietary Fiber and Blood Sugar

by Don
(Toronto, ON)

Don's question

Hi Suzy, I have been wondering whether or not soluble dietary fiber will increase blood sugar. I have asked many physicians, and none of them seem to really know.

Suzy's Answer

This is another great question, Don! I am surprised that the doctors you asked could not answer this question, since the effect of fiber on blood sugar is integral to an understanding of the effect of diet on your general health.

Two types of fiber

As you probably know, there are two categories of fiber, based on how it is handled by your digestive system - Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber. Both types of fiber are essential to a healthy lifestyle.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is the relatively indigestible part of the foods you eat. It basically “goes in one end and comes out the other.”

Insoluble fiber creates bulk in your GI tract and helps to keep things moving. In this way, insoluble fibers help you to avoid constipation and keep your digestive tract, including your colon, healthy and free of toxic debris.

Soluble Fiber

However, your question refers to the other category of fiber, soluble fiber which, as the name suggests, is fiber that dissolves in water to form a gel like substance in your digestive tract.

Soluble fibers hold moisture, softening the stools to make elimination more comfortable. In addition to helping to keep your digestive tract healthy, soluble fibers also slow down the absorption of glucose (sugar) and seem to be a factor in lowering blood cholesterol.

Insoluble fibers help you maintain a healthy weight.

Including soluble fibers in your diet, will help give you a sense of fullness, which may help prevent overeating and its consequential weight gain and increased risk of diseases associated with obesity.

Insulin sensitivity

There is also good evidence that soluble fibers increase your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone involved in the transfer of the sugar from your blood into your cells. You may know that insulin resistance is becoming endemic in the western world, leading to an increased incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.

Eating soluble fiber will decrease blood sugar.

So, to answer your question, Don, soluble fibers should decrease your blood sugar, rather than increase it. Since the soluble fiber slows down the release of sugar into your blood and increases your insulin sensitivity, your body will handle the sugars in the foods you eat in a more efficient manner, and thus help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.

Chronic high blood sugar will damage your health.

In case you don't know, the reason you want your blood sugar to stay at a healthy level is because, if the sugar stays in your blood instead of going into your cells, you will not only feel tired, but ultimately, the excess sugar will turn into alcohol and cause systemic damage to your blood vessels and organs. This is why uncontrolled diabetes is so dangerous to your health.

Fiber foods

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is found in plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and whole grains.

I hope this helps and thank you for your interest in eating healthy and for continuing to visit our site!

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,

Suzy Staywell

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