Increasing fiber intake lowers diabetes, high blood pressure

Rising rates of non-communicable diseases, including incidence of type 2 diabetes and hypertension, has been a major cause of concern for health authorities worldwide.

Now, new research finds that help to lower these serious health conditions could come from  a simple source — adding more fiber to the diet.

Millions of people around the world suffer from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and both conditions carry a strong risk of cardiovascular disease.

Both conditions carry a strong risk of cardiovascular disease.

New research has now found that patients with hypertension and type 2 diabetes who consume a high-fiber diet were able to significantly cut their risk of these health conditions.

For their study, the researchers tracked the fiber consumption of 200 participants, average age of 50, with diabetes and hypertension. They were given ‘diet prescriptions’ that included a detailed list of different foods and portion sizes. Health checks were performed at the beginning, then at 3 and 6 months into the study.

The researchers wanted to find out how dietary modifications, especially a high-fiber diet, could help patients improve their various cardiovascular risk factors. The participants consumed 1,200 to 1,500 calories and the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for fiber in this group was about 30 grams. For the study, their fiber intake was increased up to 25 percent, to about 38 grams, which equates to about 1.5 cups of high-fiber cereal.

Over the six months of the study, the cardiovascular risk factors improved significantly among participants consuming the high-fiber diet. The study found around 9 percent reduction in serum cholesterol; 23 percent reduction in triglycerides;15 percent reduction of systolic blood pressure;and, 28 percent reduction of fasting blood sugar.

Fiber from food has been part of a heart healthy diet since the 1970s, as they have been associated with lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, improving blood sugar metabolism, and even helping with weight loss.

Researchers have discovered that fiber works in the body by feeding our healthy gut bacteria, the microbiome. Gut bacteria digest the fiber into useful fragments called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are helpful to health as they improve lipid metabolism, lowers cholesterol, helps control blood sugar and reduces inflammation.

Fiber is the part of plant foods that is non-digestible and comes in two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol. It also helps slow down digestion and can assist with controlling blood glucose in diabetics. You can find soluble fiber in foods such as beans, oats, and peas.

Insoluble fiber can prevent constipation and helps remove waste from the body. It speeds up the transit of food through your system and promotes regularity.Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits eaten with their skin.

People should aim to consume about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Anything over that and you need to make sure you are drinking enough water to make sure that fiber is activated and able to move through the digestive system. Otherwise you could end up with constipation.