How fiber can help reach healthy blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes

type 2 diabetesA friend of mine was recently sharing me how frustrated her husband was with his blood sugar levels. They seemed to fluctuate widely from high blood sugar levels to low blood sugar levels. He did not know how to react to this and had decided that he was not going to take his medications any longer. Naturally she was at her wits end when she reached out to me. How could she convince her husband that stopping his medications was not the way to deal with fluctuating blood sugars?

Fluctuating blood sugars are not unusual in type 2 diabetes. Whether you are a woman living with diabetes or you know someone living with diabetes, this can be very frustrating .

Let me start by normalizing this for you. You are not alone. There are many reasons why the blood sugars fluctuate. I will cover this topic in more detail in an upcoming article.  In addition to scheduling an appointment to see your healthcare provider, you may also need to make sensible lifestyle changes- to your diet and exercise regimen.

One of the ways things to tweak in diet to increase the amount of fiber. Fiber is a form of carbohydrate. Contrary to popular belief, not all carbohydrates are bad for you!

There are two kinds of fiber-soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not get absorbed from the intestinal tract. This kind of fiber helps to reduce constipation. Soluble fiber has many proven benefits. Soluble fiber gets absorbed into the bloodstream and so can help regulate blood sugars. It also helps to control cholesterol levels.

Soluble fiber can help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by up to 50%. This is especially important for someone living with type 2 diabetes, where the risk of stroke and heart attacks is increased.

Another benefit of soluble fiber is that it help reduce hunger by maintaining a sense of fullness. This can be useful in weight management. When you feel full you tend to eat less. 

Research has proven that simply losing 10% of your body weight helps to prevent borderline diabetes from becoming full blown type 2 diabetes. Some examples of soluble fiber include psyllium, pectin and wheat dextrin and oat products.

So exactly how much fiber is enough?

 Women should eat about 25 g of fiber and men up to 38 g of fiber a day. With the ‘standard American diet’ we consume an average of 17 g fiber per day.   A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that by increasing daily fiber up to 50 g, a person living with diabetes was able to achieve healthier blood sugar and cholesterol control.

Some ways that you can start to increase your fiber intake? 

 I usually recommend gradually increasing fiber in your diet. Remember this is a long-term change you are making to your lifestyle.  If you rapidly increase fiber, it may cause gas and abdominal bloating. Too much fiber could also cause constipation if you do not drink enough water.

 So here are some suggestions on ways to increase your fiber intake: 

  1. Create a list of fiber rich foods.  You can do research this online. Click on this link to research a variety of food sources that have high fiber content.
  2. Try experimenting with some new sources of fiber every day.
  3. Gradually increase your fiber intake by 5 g per day until you reach the goal.
  4. As you increase fiber intake also make sure to increase your water intake to reduce bloating and constipation.

Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. There is no quick fix to diabetes. Your goal is to achieve healthy blood sugars so that you reduce the complications associated with diabetes. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can be one of your most powerful tools in achieving healthy blood sugars. So start today to take simple small steps each and every day and don’t give up.

To your health and wellbeing,

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