Fiber is a type of carbohydrate (just like sugars and starches) but since it is not broken down by the human body, it does not contribute any calories. Yet, on a food label, fiber is listed under total carbohydrate. So this gets kind of confusing for people who have diabetes. Carbohydrate is the one nutrient that has the biggest impact on blood glucose.
So, does fiber have any effect on your blood glucose?
The answer is that fiber does not raise blood glucose levels. Because it is not broken down by the body, the fiber in an apple or a slice of whole grain bread has no effect on blood glucose levels because it isn't digested.
So, fiber is a good thing for people with diabetes. Of course, most of the foods that contain fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas) also contain other types of non-fiber carbohydrate (sugar, starch) that must be accounted for in your meal plan.
So if fiber does not give us any calories, why exactly should you eat it?
There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber keeps your digestive tract working well. Whole wheat bran is an example of this type of fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower your cholesterol level and improve blood glucose control if eaten in large amounts. Oatmeal is an example of this type of fiber.
Fiber adds bulk to help make you feel full. Given these benefits, fiber is important to include in the daily diet for people with diabetes, as well as those who don't have diabetes. You can add fiber by eating whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Consume the skin on fruits and vegetables, as it is high in fiber. Eat whole grain breads and crackers. And be sure to increase your fiber intake gradually, and remember to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to avoid constipation.
Other Benefits of Fiber
Fiber may also help you manage your overall eating habits.
Here are some of the additional benefits of eating high-fiber foods:
Know fiber foods.
Here are some of the foods or ingredients you should look for:
Avoid processed and refined foods.
Since we are all pressed for time, but eating foods that are cheap, quick, and easy, or grabbing fast food on the go, means you are probably not going to get the fiber you need. Plan on adding some time to your food preparation habits, look for higher-fiber options like salads, or keep healthy snacks on hand â€” such as a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, or veggie slices â€” to tide you over.
Go slow. If you are new to fiber, increase your intake slowly. Your body will need time to adjust.
With a little bit of effort you can add fiber to your diet â€” and improve your overall health while controlling high blood sugar.