Eating more of dietary fibres may help fight against type 2 diabetes, a study has found. Promotion of a select group of gut bacteria by a diet high in diverse fibres led to better blood glucose control, greater weight loss and better lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes, said researchers. The study, published in the journal Science, provides evidence that eating more of the right dietary fibres may rebalance the gut microbiota, or the ecosystem of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that help digest food and are important for overall human health.
“Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibres targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment,” said Liping Zhao from Rutgers University in the US. Type 2 diabetes, one of the most common debilitating diseases, develops when the pancreas makes too little insulin – a hormone that helps glucose enter cells for use as energy – or the body does not use insulin well.
In research based in China, the scientists randomised patients with type 2 diabetes into two groups. The control group received standard patient education and dietary recommendations.
The treatment group was given a large amount of many types of dietary fibres while ingesting a similar diet for energy and major nutrients. Both groups took the drug acarbose to help control blood glucose. The high-fibre diet included whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods rich in dietary fibres and prebiotics, which promote growth of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria.
After 12 weeks, patients on the high-fibre diet had greater reduction in a three-month average of blood glucose levels. Their fasting blood glucose levels also dropped faster and they lost more weight.