Health In Focus
Highlights:
  • A high-fiber diet promotes the growth of specific gut bacteria that could help treat and manage type 2 diabetes.
  • The gut bacteria helps control blood glucose, aids weight loss and keeps lipid levels in check.
  • A diet including whole grains and prebiotics could in fact be a new nutritional approach for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

A high-fiber diet may aid the fight against type 2 diabetes, shows new study by a research team from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. A diet rich in fiber promotes the growth of gut bacteria that led to better blood glucose control, greater weight loss and better lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The study is published in the journal Science.

After six years of extensive research, the study provides evidence that consuming the right variety of dietary fibers can rebalance the gut microbiota, which aids food digestion and is essential for overall health.
High-fiber Diet may Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes

"Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment," said Liping Zhao, the study's lead author and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The Role of Gut Microbiota

The bacteria in the gut break down carbohydrates, such as dietary fibers to produce short-chain fatty acids that help control appetite. A shortage of these fatty acids has been associated with type 2 diabetes and other diseases. By rebalancing the gut microbiota, one could possibly restore short-chain fatty acid production and manage diabetes.

Study overview

Patients with type 2 diabetes were randomly divided into two groups. The control group received standard patient education and dietary recommendations. The treatment group received a large amount of many types of dietary fibers and a similar diet for energy and major nutrients. Both the groups were given acarbose a drug to help control blood glucose.


The high-fiber diet included whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods rich in dietary fibers and prebiotics, all of which promote the growth of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria.

Study findings

  • After 12 weeks, patients on high-fiber diet experienced a greater reduction in the blood glucose levels; they also lost more weight compared to the control group.
  • 15 strains of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria were identified by next-generation sequencing in patients who consumed a high-fiber diet.
  • A fiber-rich diet ensured that those 15 strains became the dominant strains in the gut and produced high levels of the short-chain fatty acids butyrate and acetate.
  • These fatty acids made the gut environment mildly acidic, which reduced populations of harmful bacteria that increased insulin production.
References :
  1. Liping Zhao, Feng Zhang, et al. Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science, 2018; 359 (6380): 1151 DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5774
Source: Medindia

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