Eating Fiber Can Prevent Prediabetes from Becoming Diabetes — But There Can Be Side Effects

by Nils Osmar. July 19, 2022. Medical disclaimer

According to a study called “Targeting glucose metabolism for healthy aging“, lowering high blood glucose is likely a prerequisite for longevity.

Eating fiber is one well-established way of lowering blood sugar, and under some circumstances appears to be able to prevent prediabetes from turning into diabetes. However, the amount of fiber most people eat is not enough to stave off diabetes. For those with prediabetes, much higher benefits kick in when they reach or surpass eating 37 grams of fiber per day.

37 grams may feel like a huge amount of fiber. Many food sources that are supposedly “high fiber” have less than 1 gram per serving. But it’s not hard to get that much fiber from a healthy source if you choose the right foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic, lentils, black beans, and split peas are all excellent source of fiber. Eating 2.5 servings of either soup in a day would get us up to 37 grams. Perhaps not coincidentally, lentils are a staple in many versions of the Mediterranean diet.

Drawbacks and side effects

One drawback (which I’ve experienced) is that for some of us, eating that much fiber, even from supposedly healthy foods, can support the growth of strains of gut bacteria that release an excessive amount of gas, causing the belly to puff up like a balloon. In a Medical News Today article (How much fiber is too much?), the author lists the following as symptoms of excessive fiber intake:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • feeling too full
  • stomach cramps
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • poor absorption of some key nutrients
  • weight gain or loss
  • nausea
  • intestinal blockage in rare cases

But adds:

A person may relieve their discomfort by decreasing their fiber intake, increasing the amount of water they drink, and exercising more… An individual should aim for 8 glasses of water a day, and make a habit of choosing low or no-sugar beverages. Achieving the recommended daily fiber targets is worth the effort because the health dangers of not eating enough fiber greatly outweigh the discomfort of eating too much.

With that said…

… for some people, the problems caused by their bodies’ reactions to very high fiber diets have been severe enough to cause them to look at other possible solutions. For me, eating a big bowl of lentil soup can give me so much stomach gas that I go from having a flat stomach to looking like I’m six months pregnant!

One alternative which I’ll go into in a future article is going in a completely different direction: removing all, or almost all, carbohydrates (including fiber) from the diet (i.e., going carnivore). This is looked down on by health authorities but there are ways to approach it make it less extreme than it may sound. I’ll write more about them in a future article.

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