Type 2 diabetes is a common condition in the UK that can be caused by eating a poor diet, high in saturated fat. Left untreated, it can lead to serious, long-term health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, as well as damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes and feet. Eating a healthy diet can help manage a person’s blood sugar level, and as part of this, eating foods from a certain food group is recommended.
Some evidence has shown fibre can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study published in 2018 suggests a high fibre diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 to 30 per cent.
The research noted this effect came mainly from whole grains or insoluble cereal fibre.
Other studies, however, have shown a combination of insoluble and soluble fibre in the diet can be beneficial.
Soluble fibre absorbs water, turning it into a gel-like substance, while insoluble fibre doesn’t.
Four of the best sources of fibre you should consider adding to your diet are:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
Fibre is considered an essential part of the diet, particularly for a person with diabetes.
Carbohydrates with high fibre take longer to digest than those in low fibre foods, reducing the chance of a blood sugar spike.
Fibre also helps a person feel fuller for longer, making them less likely to overeat (being overweight is a risk factor for the condition developing).
Government guidelines published in July 2015 say dietary fibre intake should be 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet.
But it was revealed most adults are only eating an average of about 18g a day.
The NHS recommends the following ways to increase your fibre intake:
- Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain wholewheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre.
- Go for wholemeal or granary breads, or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
- Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes. Find out more about starchy foods and carbohydrates.
- Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.
- Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries.
- Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it’s better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack.
- For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts or seeds.