Monday, March 12, 2007


The Rule of 5 for Fiber

Posted by Christine McKinney, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

We've all heard of the health benefits of fiber: it's nutritious, helps prevent certain diseases, controls weight, and contributes to bowel regularity. What about fiber and diabetes?

Fiber actually slows down the digestion and absorption of glucose. For people with diabetes, this may mean less of a postprandial (after-meal) rise in blood glucose levels or even a smaller dose of mealtime insulin.

The American Diabetes Association recommends subtracting the total amount of fiber from the total amount of carbohydrates when one serving of any food contains five grams or more of fiber. Thanks to food labels, this is actually quite an easy calculation.

For example, if one cup of cereal contains 37 grams of total carbs and seven grams of fiber (remember, fiber grams are part of total carb grams), this means that you only have to count 30 grams as carb instead of 37 grams.

Fiber is great for everyone, but people with diabetes should make it part of every day's meal plan. Our daily goal for fiber should be 25-30 grams. Think about the foods you eat now: do you choose whole-grain sources of breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and crackers?

How about your fruit and vegetable intake? Dried fruit and fruits with the skin on, such as berries, pears, and apples, are high in fiber. Good vegetable sources of fiber include broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and dried peas and beans.

One of the best ways I've found to put more fiber in my diet is fiber-fortified cold cereals. There are many brands out there and only one or two servings each day can meet half of your fiber needs.

Bump up your fiber intake and enjoy health benefits, including a lower postprandial blood glucose level and possibly smaller doses of insulin. Are you already reading food labels and looking for good fiber sources? If so, let me know about it!

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