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Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterised by the inability of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin, which converts glucose to glycogen to give energy to your body. Diabetes is mainly of two types: Type 1 diabetes, where the pancreas does not produce insulin and Type 2 diabetes, where the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to utilise insulin well. A person with diabetes has to be careful of what they eat. Case in point – dietary fibre!
Dietary fibre is also known as roughage or bulk. Fibre is of two types- soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the stomach and slows down digestion. This delays glucose absorption in the blood, which is responsible for the management of blood sugar levels. However, having a low-fibre diet is more likely to spike blood sugar levels. Foods rich in fibre can facilitate the feeling of fullness for a longer time, staving off unusual hunger pangs. Fibre-rich foods have a low glycemic index (GI), which can help control appetite and have a lower impact on blood glucose levels.
Uncontrolled diabetes may also increase the risk of developing other non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular problems, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia, among others. Increased fibre consumption, particularly cereals and whole grains, reduces the risk of cardio-metabolic diseases and colon-rectal cancer.
According to a research study, people with diabetes can benefit from consuming a tablespoon of soluble fibre every day. It helps regulate their blood sugar levels by slowing glucose absorption in the bloodstream as a result of delayed digestion. One can also take supplement fibres such as psyllium husk or guar gum by adding them to regular meals. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fibre given by NIN, ICMR, for a sedentary adult is 30gm/day or 2000 kcal of fibre daily.
Soluble fibre feeds our good gut bacteria. It is found in plants in the form of pectins, gums, and mucilage. Good sources of soluble fibre include fruits, oat bran, barley, seed husk, psyllium husk, legumes, dried beans, lentils, peas, and soybeans.
Unlike soluble fibre, insoluble fibre doesn’t attract water. It stays intact as food moves through the gastrointestinal tract. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool, which makes it easy to eliminate from the body, preventing chronic constipation and gut-related problems such as haemorrhoids. It consists of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, which are structural components of plant cell walls. Good sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skin of fruits and vegetable wholegrain, nuts and seeds, and dried beans.
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