The data on a possible link between fibre intake and diabetes risk comes from an 11 year follow up study of more than 29,000 people in eight European countries, and a fresh meta-analysis where researchers combined the new findings with those from 18 other independent studies from across the globe.
Writing in Diabetologia, the team behind the study said that their data showed people with the highest total fibre intake (of more than 26 grams per day) had an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those with the lowest total fibre intake (less than 19g/day) – adding that further analysis showed that cereal fibre was the best source of fibre.
"This work adds to the growing evidence of the health benefits of diets rich in fibre, in particular cereal fibre,” said Professor Nick Wareham, senior author on the paper and Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. “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."
The team, led by first author Dagfinn Aune, noted that the fresh meta-analysis found that the risk of diabetes fell by 9% for each 10g/day increase in total fibre intake, and by 25% for each 10g/day increase in cereal fibre intake.
"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,” commented Aune. “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,” she said – adding that as well as helping keep weight down, dietary fibre may also affect diabetes risk by other mechanisms such as improving control of blood sugar and increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin.