Estimates are that only five percent of Americans get enough fiber in their diet. We all should eat more fiber, but this is especially true for people with diabetes.
Why? Because fiber is a type of carbohydrate, so it can fill you up and help satisfy your hunger, but it won't increase your glucose levels nearly as quickly as other kinds of food would.
You can subtract fiber's carbs
Also, the fiber carbs you eat can often be subtracted from that meal’s total carbohydrates. When the total amount of fiber per serving is 5 or more grams, the American Diabetes Association recommends subtracting the total grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrates you've consumed. For example, if a product contains 38 grams of total carbohydrate and 7 grams of fiber, then after subtracting the fiber the total carbohydrates would be 31 grams.
Fiber has additional benefits beyond glucose control. As mentioned above, it helps you to feel fuller after a meal, usually without a lot of extra calories, which can help with weight loss. Fiber has also been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 5 percent. And research studies have shown that adding more fiber to your diet is a step toward preventing heart disease as well as some types of cancer.
How much fiber?
The goal for daily fiber intake is 25-35 grams. The amount of fiber in a particular food is listed under "total carbohydrates" on the package's nutrition facts panel. Another place to look up fiber content is on the American Diabetes Association’s YourFoodAdvisor website.
How to get more fiber
Many foods are now fortified with fiber but, since fiber is only found in plant foods, your very best bet for increasing your fiber intake is by eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. (Note: When starting out to increase the fiber in your diet, always remember to eat slowly and drink plenty of water so you will not feel bloated.)
Can more fiber make a difference?
To track the effects of increased fiber in your diet, keep a food diary that includes the grams of fiber you consume during each meal. Compare the information in this diary to your glucose log, so you can find out if any of your after-meal glucose levels were improved with the addition of extra fiber.