A new study further highlights the importance of dietary fibre: the consumption of large amounts of dietary fibre lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The results are published in the journal Diabetologia.
The researchers of the new study have assessed the links between total fibre together with fibre obtained from cereal, fruits and vegetables, and type 2 diabetes. The relevant data was obtained from 8 countries of Europe, in the EPIC-InterAct Study. Furthermore, the researchers did a meta-analysis whereby they merged the data of this study to others generated from 18 different studies from all around the world.
The EPIC-InterAct study is the world’s largest study on new-onset type 2 diabetes. It covers 12,403 verified type 2 diabetes cases, together with a sub-cohort of 16,835 .
The participants of the study were divided into 4 groups, categorised according to the amount of fibre intake. Their risk of developing type 2 diabetes was evaluated over a period of 11 years.
The results showed that those consuming the highest total fibre intake (more than 26 g/day) had an 18% less risk of having diabetes, as opposed to those with the lowest fibre intake (less than 19g/day). These figures were obtained after adjusting for the effect of lifestyle and dietary factors. However, when they were adjusted for body mass index (BMI), the link was not found. This would imply that dietary fibre might protect one from obesity, which then lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another finding was that cereal generated the strongest inverse association: those with the greatest levels of cereal of vegetable fibre had a 19 % and a 16 % lower risk of having diabetes respectively than those with the smallest consumption of cereals and vegetables.
Fibre obtained from fruits did not show any significant decrease in the diabetes risk though.
The meta-analysis provided further information. It included more than 41,000 type 2 diabetes cases. From this data, the researchers found that the risk decreased by 9 % for each 10g/day increase in total fibre intake. When cereal fibre intake was increased by 10g per day, the risk decreased by 25 %.
Dagfinn Aune, one of the authors, said: “Taken together, our results indicate that individuals with diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre, may be at lower risk of type 2 diabetes. We are not certain why this might be, but potential mechanisms could include feeling physically full for longer, prolonged release of hormonal signals, slowed down nutrient absorption, or altered fermentation in the large intestine. All these mechanisms could lead to a lower BMI and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As well as helping keep weight down, dietary fibre may also affect diabetes risk by other mechanisms — for instance improving control of blood sugar and decreasing insulin peaks after meals, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.”
Professor Nick Wareham, senior author on the paper and Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, added: “This work adds to the growing evidence of the health benefits of diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre. Public health measures globally to increase fibre consumption are therefore likely to play an important part in halting the epidemics of obesity and of type 2 diabetes.”