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Diabetics with a fibre-rich diet have lower death risk

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

Systematic review: This type of study is a structured approach to reviewing all the evidence to answer a specific question. It can include a meta-analysis which is a statistical method of combining the data from multiple studies to get an overall result.

After conducting a systematic review of the research around diabetes and fibre, University of Otago scientists say diabetics should be eating more whole grains. The review found high-fibre diets are a key aspect of diabetes management, resulting in improved glycaemic control, and a reduction in premature mortality. The scientists suggest diabetics increase their daily fibre intake by 15 grams per day, up to 35 grams of fibre daily.

Journal/conference: PLOS Medicine

Link to research (DOI): 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003053

Organisation/s: University of Otago

Funder: This work was funded by the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand (ANR, APA), the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, New Zealand (JM), and the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, New Zealand (ANR, JM). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript

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Why was the study done?

  • Higher intakes of dietary fibre are associated with a reduction in premature mortality and incidence of a wide range of noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors in the population at large. We have considered the role of high-fibre diets on mortality and increasing fibre intake on cardiometabolic risk factors of adults with prediabetes or diabetes.
  • We conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses to inform an update of European nutrition guidelines for diabetes management.

What did the researchers do and find?

  • We examined prospective cohort studies of dietary fibre intake and mortality as well as controlled trials, which considered the effects of increasing fibre intakes on glycaemic control and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. We explored dose response relationships between dietary fibre and these outcomes to determine a more reliable estimate for recommended intakes.
  • We found that participants in prospective cohort studies consuming higher intakes of dietary fibre had a reduced risk of premature mortality when compared with those with lower fibre intakes.
  • We also found that the results from controlled trials were complementary, with increasing intake of fibre improving glycaemic control and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as cholesterol levels and body weight.

What do the findings mean?

  • Those with prediabetes, type 1, or type 2 diabetes should increase their dietary fibre intakes by 15 g per day or to 35 g per day.
  • One practical way to increase fibre intakes is to replace refined grain products with whole grain foods.


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