The Diabetic Diet Plan
The principle of a diabetic diet plan is the inclusion of foods of special benefit to the person with diabetes, foods that help moderate the higher than normal blood sugar levels that characterizes diabetes. One of the several categories of foods providing that benefit is dietary fiber.
Carbohydrates are the major source of glucose, the sugar that is essential for the cells of the body as energy required in their performance of many metabolic activities. Diabetes occurs because of an impairment in the body's ability to process the sugars in the normal fashion. An explanation of the process can be found at Diabetes, Glucose, and Insulin.
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that does not get digested to provide glucose to support the energy requirements of the body. It cannot be digested and broken down in the stomach or in the small intestines as are other carbohydrates, but passes relatively unchanged into the large intestine, absorbing water and providing bulk that aids the elimination of body wastes.
There are several different types of fiber that can be differentiated by whether they are water-soluble or not. Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber provide different beneficial properties in the digestion process and affect the actions of other foods consumed.
For the diabetic person, in compiling a diabetic food list for the diabetic menu, both types of fiber are essential in different proportions. The insoluble fiber should be about 3 times greater than the amount of soluble fiber chosen for the daily diabetic menu.
How much is needed?
Dietary fiber is essential for good health. A lack of fiber consumption over a long period of time could result in a condition that can be considered as a deficiency disease. The typical American diet provides some fiber but not really a sufficient amount for optimum health.
While there is agreement among health scientists on the need for the inclusion of fiber in all diets for human beings, there are varying opinions about the amount that should be consumed. The American Diabetes Association recommends 20 to 25 grams daily as being suitable for all adults and clinical studies have shown that 50 grams of fiber daily in a type-2 diabetic diet can improve the control of blood sugar levels and can also help lower cholesterol levels.
It is important to increase water intake when adding fiber to the diabetic diet.
Conversion of pounds to kilos and grams to ounces
A pound is equal to a little less than half a kilogram, approximately 0.454 of a kilo
A gram is equal to approximately 28.35 grams.
Other dietary authorities point out the need to consider body weight as a factor in determining the appropriate quantity of fiber needed by an individual. One reference source suggests the amounts of fiber for persons with the following weights in pounds:
125 pounds 25 to 30 grams
150 pounds 30 to 35 grams
175 pounds 35 to 40 grams
200 pounds 40 to 45 grams
Sources of dietary fiber
Dietary fiber can be obtained from fruits, vegetables, legumes-- such as beans, grains, cereals, breads, and even from manufactured supplements such as psyllium, or mucillium.
For the diabetic, the plant sources are especially beneficial because they also contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients. A more complete explanation can be found in the article titled Fruit, Delicious and Nutritious.
In the year 2002, in a publications of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that summarized the content of a book titled Benefits of Dietary Fiber for Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes, the statement was made:
"Dietary fiber has received recognition for reducing the risk of developing both CVD and diabetes. The implication is that dietary fiber may have therapeutic benefits in prediabetic metabolic conditions and in preventing the cardiovascular complications of diabetes.
The effect of dietary fiber on the common risk factors . . . may reduce the morbidity of these diseases."
That statement should in itself be sufficient encouragement for persons with diabetes to add dietary fiber to their daily diabetic menus in appropriate quantities. Anything that helps control blood sugar levels should not be ignored in the management of the diabetic condition.