Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: A High-Fiber Diet Reduces Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

TheBUZZ A High-Fiber Diet Reduces Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

If you want to decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, include more fiber in your diet!

WHAT WE KNOW

Fiber helps reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease. It also helps you feel fuller longer, helping with weight loss and weight maintenance. In addition, fiber helps keep the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in tip-top shape and removes circulating blood cholesterol from the body, meaning it’s involved with keeping cholesterol levels at a healthy level.1 Anyone who includes the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables in her/his diet is likely doing a good job of getting adequate fiber. Fiber intake varies depending on a person’s age, sex, and stage of life. Not sure how much you need? Check out the chart below.2

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

Age and Sex or Life Stage
Total Fiber (grams/day)
 
Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Not determined
Not determined
 
Children
1-3 years
4-8 years
19
25
 
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
51-70 years
>70 years
31
38
38
38
30
30
 
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
51-70 years
>70 years
25
26
26
26
21
20
 
Pregnancy
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
29
28
28
 
Lactation
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
29
29
29

WHY THIS MATTERS

In 2011, 366 million people worldwide were living with diabetes, and this number is expected to rise to 552 million by 2030.3 This increase is largely due to people and countries around the globe shifting towards a diet that includes lots of processed sugars, refined grains like white bread, and not enough fruits and vegetables. Health complications typically associated with diabetes include cardiovascular disease, damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes and feet; skin conditions, hearing impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.4

In early 2015, researchers from Europe published a study on the connection between a person’s fiber intake and their risk of developing diabetes. The study was large, following more than 26,000 people for 11 years.5 They found that participants who consumed the highest amounts of fiber (more than 26 grams each day) were 18% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest fiber intake (less than 19 grams each day).

The study also found that people who had the most fiber in their diets were less likely to smoke, drank little alcohol and were more physically active than those with low fiber intake. This is important because physical activity and fiber intake play important roles in weight loss and weight maintenance. High fiber intake did not protect participants whose body mass index (BMI) – an estimate of body fat based on height and weight – was classified as obese. Obesity nullifies the benefits of a high fiber diet. In order to reap the benefits of high fiber intake, a person must be at a healthy weight.

OUR ADVICE

The most effective way to pack your diet with fiber is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, including beans like black beans, and to make sure that half of the grains you eat are whole grains. Doing so ensures you’re getting fiber every single time you eat! What are some ways you can do this? Add fruit to your favorite yogurt and whole-grain cereals, top pizza with sliced veggies, drink 100% fruit juice, and pack veggie sticks and hummus as an afternoon snack – the possibilities are endless! In addition, use the chart below to help you choose which high-fiber fruits and veggies to pick to maximize your fiber intake.

A word of caution: increase your fiber intake gradually to prevent unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as upset stomach and bloating!

Examples of Amount of Fiber in Fruits & Veggies
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Visit MayoClinic.com for more information on high-fiber foods, such as nuts, legumes (beans) and cereals.

 

1 About the Buzz: You Need A Fiber Supplement To Get The Recommended Amount Of Fiber Each Day? FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org (2010). View

2 Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate. Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005). View

3 Whiting DR, Guariguata L, Weil C, et al. “IDF diabetes atlas: global estimates of the prevalence of diabetes for 2011 and 2030.” Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice (2011), 94:311–321. View

4 Mayo Clinic. Diseases and Conditions: Diabetes Complications. 2015. View

5 The InterAct Consortium. Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the EPIC-InterAct Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetologia (2015) 58: 1394-1408. View

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