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Researchers Investigate Relationship Between Fiber Intake, Body Fat, and Diabetes

A new European study has found that increased fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Published in Diabetologia, the study looked at data for 15,258 participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-InterAct study, one of the largest population studies in the world, with over 500,000 participants from ten countries. Specifically, researchers were interested in investigating the relationship between total fiber intake, as well as fiber intake from cereals, vegetables, and fruits, and the onset of type 2 diabetes. The researchers also conducted a separate meta-analysis that combined data from EPIC with data from 18 other studies from around the world to further examine the relationship between fiber and diabetes. Here is what they found:

  • The data from the EPIC revealed that those participants with the highest total fiber intake (more than 26 grams per day) had an 18% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with those consuming the least amount of fiber (less than 19 grams per day).
  • Increased intake of cereal fiber and vegetable fiber, but not fruit fiber, was also associated with a similar reduction in diabetes risk.
  • However, when body mass index (BMI) was taken into account, the association between fiber and diabetes was no longer statistically significant.

The meta-analysis showed similar, but not identical results: the risk of diabetes fell by 9% for each 10 g/day increase in total fiber intake, and by 25% for each 10 g/day increase in cereal fiber intake, although there was no statistically significant relationship between vegetable or fruit fiber and diabetes. Further, the EPIC data suggests that BMI may be contributing more directly to the reduction in diabetes risk, and that fiber may play only an indirect role in reducing diabetes risk by helping improve BMI through feelings of fullness, prolonged release of hormone signals, slowed nutrient absorption, or altered fermentation in the large intestines.

Source: Diabetologia

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