The importance of fiber in the management of type 2 diabetes

Several studies have shown that daily fiber consumption significantly reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus. Figures estimate that a diet rich in fiber could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20-30% less, which highlights its importance. 1,2 But unfortunately, in developed countries, the vast majority of people (around 90-95%) consume very little fiber.

The dietary fiber that forms the structure of plants (and grains) is an essential nutrient that helps the body keep blood sugar levels stable. That said, both too little fiber in your diet and too much fiber could cause damage to your body. How much fiber do you need a day to be healthy and prevent diabetes?


The importance of fiber for diabetes

Fiber is a complex, high molecular weight carbohydrate that forms the structure of plants and cannot be digested in the human stomach. In people, the central role of fiber is to support digestion processes, a decrease in the glycemic index of food, and the nutrition of the intestinal microflora.

Ultimately, the more fiber a particular food contains, the lower its glycemic index – the rate at which the body converts carbohydrates in foods into glucose and blood sugar levels rise.

In addition, fiber is prebiotic: it is fermented by the microflora of the large intestine and stimulates its growth and vital activity (strengthening beneficial bacteria and inhibiting harmful ones). In particular, fiber helps the bacterial synthesis of various vitamins.

Fiber standards for diabetics

The recommended amounts of fiber per day for women are³:

19-30 years – 28 g

31-50 years – 25 g

over 51 years – 22 g

Recommended amounts of fiber per day for men³:

19-30 years – 34 g

age 31-50 years – 31 g

over 51 years – 28 g

Although the exact norm should be calculated based on the daily caloric intake (remember, it depends on the body weight and the level of human activity), representing 14 g of fiber per 1000 kcal. The maximum amount of fiber per day should not exceed 50 g.

A diabetes mellitus does not affect the recommendations for daily fiber intake; the fiber guidelines are calculated by age and weight, not by the presence (or absence) of diabetes. People with diabetes need to monitor their compliance more closely.

Where it is found and what types of fiber.

In theory, around ten different fiber types are recognized (hemicellulose, pectins, gums, mucus, lignin, etc.). In practice, the vital thing to remember is water-soluble and water-insoluble fiber.

Water-soluble fiber can absorb liquid like a sponge, turning it into a thick gel; most of the time, this fiber serves as food for the beneficial bacteria in the stomach. Water-insoluble yarn is denser, does not absorb liquids, and performs mechanical functions. Regarding fiber not soluble in water, fewer benefits are known, but it could be associated with the fermentation of products derived from microorganisms that inhabit the colon.

Most natural foods ( vegetables and cereals) contain both types of fiber simultaneously. But, as a general rule, it could be said that non-starchy vegetables consist mainly of insoluble dietary fiber and fruits are richer insoluble fibers.

What fiber is healthier for diabetes?

Research on the effects of fiber on diabetes shows two that the fiber in whole grains and vegetables is healthier than the fiber found in fruits. In particular, cereals and legumes also contain resistant (indigestible) starch: it is not processed in the small intestine and does not lead to the release of glucose into the blood.

Note that the proportion of such starch may increase after cooking and cooling carbohydrate products, mainly potatoes and rice. This also lowers your glycemic index.

Fiber for Diabetes: A Practical Guide

How to eat more fiber if I have diabetes?

Here are some simple tips to help you manage adequate fiber intake when you have diabetes³:

  • Try to eat 3 to 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables every day (one serving is ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of cooked vegetables).
  • Eat two servings of high-fiber fruits a day (one doing is a handful of berries, a small apple, or a pear).
  • Instead of premium wheat flour products, give preference to whole grains (oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur, etc.).
  • Use nuts with no added salt (one serving equals ¼ cup or about a handful).
  • Sprinkle vegetable salads (or plain yogurt) with a tablespoon of ground chia seeds or flax seeds.
  • Include legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas) in your diet as they contain fiber.

Other tips

First of all, let’s remember that there is possible harm from excessive fiber consumption, especially for a stomach that is not used to it.

Although fiber consumption is recommended for diabetes, how everything is essential to emphasize covering an adequate amount.

Some adverse effects of fiber:

  • Fiber can bind minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, limiting these micronutrients.
  • Rarely but severe intestinal blockage can occur when individuals overeat fiber and do not consume enough fluid.

Signs that you are consuming too much fiber:

  • Gastrointestinal upset can include bloating, gas, constipation, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Decreased appetite or early satiety.
  • Loss of weight and muscle mass due to the inability to consume enough energy due to high volume meals


Consuming a fiber intake of approximately 20-35 grams can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by a third since, among other things, fiber consumption helps keep blood glucose levels stable. However, if you have diabetes and decide to increase your daily fiber intake, do so progressively, increasing the amount of fiber in your diet gradually, day after day; It is also advisable to consume foods with fiber spaced at each meal.

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