Can a Fibre-rich Diet Help Control Diabetes?

A high-veg diet can help treat type 2 diabetes – and it seems to do this by altering gut bacteria.

Liping Zhao at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and his colleagues compared the effects of two diets in people with type 2 diabetes. Over 12 weeks

  • 16 people followed a low-fat, low-carb diet; and
  • 27 people ate a lot of high-fibre foods, such as wholegrains and vegetables.

Both groups also took a drug that slows the digestion of starch, allowing it to reach the large intestine, where microbes feed upon it.

By the end of the trial, 89% of those on the high-fibre diet showed signs of better blood sugar regulation – compared with 50% of the control group.

The team then looked at strains of gut bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids, which are thought to be good for our health.

They found that 15 strains became more abundant in those that responded best to the diet (Zhao, 2018).

Zhao wants to find other ways to boost these strains in people with diabetes, and hopes the team’s findings could be used to develop probiotic treatments.


New Scientist. (2018) Fibre-rich Diet Helps Control Diabetes. New Scientist. 17 March 2108, pp.19.

Zhao, L., Zhang, F., Ding, X., Wu, G., Lam, Y.Y. & Wang, X. (2018) Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science. 359(6380), pp.1151-1156. DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5774.


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