Foods High in Fiber May Help Prevent Diabetes
March 31, 2000 (New York) -- A large, new study finds that a diet high in
fiber, grains, and magnesium may help protect against type 2 diabetes. In
addition, the researchers found that carbohydrates don't play any apparent role
in the development of the disease. Previous medical research into how diet
affects the development of diabetes has been somewhat contradictory.
Fiber is found only in plants, particularly in bran of whole grains, in the
stems and leaves of vegetables, and in fruits, seeds, and nuts. Certain cereals
are also high in fiber. Grains are also a good source of magnesium.
Katie A. Meyer, MPH, now a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Harvard
School of Public Health, led the study, which appears in the April issue of the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers examined the dietary
habits of close to 36,000 women, following them for six years.
The researchers found that the women who ate a diet high in grains, whole
grains, fiber, cereal fiber, and magnesium were less likely to get diabetes.
They found neither an increased nor a decreased risk of diabetes in women who
ate a high amount of carbohydrates, soluble fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
Lawrence Kushi, DCs, a co-author of the study, says that these findings lend
further support to existing dietary recommendations that call for eating more
plant foods than are traditionally used in the U.S. and for following more of a
Mediterranean or Asian diet, both of which use more plant foods. Kushi is a
professor of human nutrition at Columbia University's Teachers College in New
Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, who was not involved in the study, tells WebMD that
"this is an extremely well-done study," but she worries about people
overreacting. "I would hate to see people run out and buy magnesium
supplements or sprinkle wheat bran on their food," she tells WebMD. The
"data are very consistent with current dietary recommendations," says
Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.
She also stresses the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, saying
there is a wealth of data demonstrating that they are important in maintaining
a healthy diet.
Lichtenstein says that she hopes that the study will spur more broad-based
research into what lowers diabetes risk.