High fiber does more than just fill you up

By Bobbie Randall

January 1, 2014

A woman once asked me to recall the most popular question that I am asked. This was not a hard one to answer. Usually people want to know how to lose weight without much effort.

When speaking to people with diabetes the question always involves blood sugars. The mystery is how to stabilize sugar levels and still eat a lot of food.

The answer to both questions is high fiber foods. The more fiber in a food, the more food can be consumed. Yet the average American only eats 10 to 15 grams a day. This is well below the recommended 25 to 40 grams daily intake.

High fiber foods have been proven to increase satiety, which means, a person gets full faster for a longer period of time. Heart disease and the risk of type 2 diabetes are reduced with the more fiber that is consumed. Digestive and bowel health are enhanced by both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Manufactures of processed foods are attempting to increase the fiber content of some foods by adding soluble corn fiber, polydextrose and soluble fiber dextrin to cereals, soups, baked goods and meal replacements. These functional fibers improve fecal bulk and relieve constipation.

Adding functional fibers delay the emptying of the stomach resulting in a feeling of fullness, which may help in weight control by curbing the appetite. The stomach then takes longer to empty it’s contents. Then the sugars in the food take longer to increase the glucose in the blood. This has a positive effect in type 2 diabetes.

New cardiac research reveals that a high fiber meal interferes with the digestion of fats and cholesterol. The fiber molecules act as sponges in the blood lowering blood cholesterol levels.

It is difficult for some people to increase the ingestion of high fiber foods. Fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and beans contain the most fiber. Those with irritable bowel syndrome especially have a difficult time with fiber laden foods but they can consume brown rice, rice bran, oat bran oatmeal, quinoa, as well as, chickpeas and lentils.

It is important to drink plenty of fluid when increasing fiber. Too much fiber eaten quickly can cause a road block in the intestines without the hydration to keep it moving. Increased gas and bloating can also occur if a person goes from consuming only a few grams of fiber a day to over 20 grams.

One of the easiest ways to control blood sugar and also lose weight is to increase the fiber content of each meal. The more fiber in a meal, the more volume can be consumed and the more fiber that is consumed, the less a person feels like eating more.

This sounds like a win-win situation for someone trying to control their weight. It is also a positive strategy to stabilize blood sugars.

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator and a registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at or 330-684-4776.