Fibre! People cannot stop talking about it whenever someone mentions a healthy diet. If we were to elaborate on its health benefits, it would take up pages and hours. But high-fibre foods for diabetes? Is there a beneficial connection? Is fibre recommended for diabetics? Let’s find out.Contents:
Dietary fibre, also called roughage, bulk, or simply ‘fibre’ is a type of indigestible carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. Unlike other carbohydrates, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and passes through the body undigested. Fibre is of two types:
This type of fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. It can effectively lower your blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Foods that are rich in soluble fibre include nuts, peas, beans, lentils, chia seeds, oats, apples, and blueberries.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. It absorbs water, swells up, and promotes the movement of food through your digestive system. It improves digestion, increases the bulk of stools, and promotes healthy bowel movements. Consuming foods rich in insoluble fibre can help prevent constipation and other problems with digestion.
Foods with insoluble fibre include whole brown rice, legumes, wheat products (especially wheat bran), quinoa, leafy greens like kale, seeds, almonds, walnuts, and fruits with edible skins like pears and apples.
Fibre is not broken down or absorbed by your digestive system and therefore it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels after consumption unlike other forms of carbohydrates.
Foods that are high in fibre generally have a low glycemic index (GI, a value assigned to a particular food based on how quickly it raises your blood glucose levels after consumption). This is because they do not contain high amounts of digestible carbohydrates and thus take longer for the body to digest. This results in a slower digestion process and a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Thus, high-fibre foods are suitable for consumption by diabetics.
High-fibre foods also tend to be more filling as fibre absorbs water and increases in volume in the stomach. It thus keeps you full for long periods, avoiding the need for frequent snacking and lowering your calorie intake.
Note that fibre is only found in plant-based foods, and high-fibre foods tend to be low in fat and calories. Further, high-fibre foods can take longer to chew, which gives your body more time to realise when you are full and can help prevent overeating. These factors make fibre a healthy choice for diabetics. Let’s take a look at some high-fibre foods that you can include in your daily diet.
Here is how to increase the fibre content in your daily diet:
Fruits are a good source of fibre and are also rich in antioxidants, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Not all fruits are equal in terms of their fibre content and therefore it is important that you choose the right fruits to boost your fibre intake.
The high-fibre fruits that you can choose from include berries such as raspberries and strawberries (8 grams of fibre per cup), tropical fruits such as mangoes and passion fruit (5 to 25 grams of fibre per cup), and others fruits such as apples (1 medium apple with skin, 4.4 grams of fibre), prunes (8 grams of fibre per cup), and avocados (7 grams of fibre per cup).
Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a rich source of fibre. Vegetables are of two types: starchy and non-starchy. Starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates.
Therefore, diabetics can go for non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and celery as a part of their diet. You can cook and add them to your meals or eat them as salads. Typically, a half-cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw non-starchy vegetables contains around 3 grams of fibre.
Whole grains are a good source of fibre. Whole grains or food made from them contain all the essential parts of the naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.
Some of the whole grains that you can include in your daily diet include rice, millets, oats, quinoa, corn, and barley. One serving (about 16 grams) of whole grains contains around 3 grams of fibre.
Legumes form a staple part of the diet in many Indian homes and are a rich source of fibre. Some of the common edible legumes include beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts. They can easily be included in your daily meals, salads, or snacks. A serving of 100 grams of legumes contains about 5 grams of fibre.
Nuts and seeds are a rich source of dietary fibre, proteins, and healthy fats. Making them a regular part of your diet will help you in managing your body weight and also in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes.
You can consume nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds as a part of your regular diet. A serving of 100 grams of nuts or seeds contains approximately 6 to 7 grams of fibre.
Children and adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fibre per day for good health. Also, try to limit your fibre consumption to 70 grams a day.
Let’s take a look at the total fibre content in some common food items:
Apple (with skin)
Sweet corn, boiled
1 Cup, chopped
Barley, pearled, cooked
Brown rice, cooked
Bread, whole wheat
Consuming more than 70 grams of fibre a day can lead to unwanted side effects such as:
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