Dietary fiber has previously been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Now, research has found that psyllium fiber, which comes from the seed husks of the Plantago ovata plant, may improve markers of blood sugar control in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Researchers looked at three decade’s worth of data from 35 randomized, controlled, clinical studies from three continents and published their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The 35 studies examined the effects of psyllium supplements in healthy people, in people with pre-diabetes (in which blood sugar levels are high but do not reach the threshold for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis), and in people with type 2 diabetes. After assessing the data, the researchers found that:
In studies lasting two weeks or more, people with diabetes who took psyllium supplements before meals experienced statistically significant reductions in fasting blood sugar levels, with an average decrease of 37.0 mg/dL.
The same group of participants also experienced a 0.97% reduction in glycated hemoglobin, a marker of long-term blood sugar control. This reduction is similar to reductions produced by drugs commonly prescribed for diabetes.
People with pre-diabetes also experienced a modest improvement in fasting blood sugar levels after taking psyllium supplements, while people with normal blood sugar levels did not experience changes.
The link between psyllium fiber and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes is supported by the FDA, and the FDA allows the following health claim to be made on products containing psyillium: “Psyllium husk may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, although the FDA has concluded that there is very little scientific evidence for this claim.” The findings from this study add to the growing body of evidence that psyllium fiber supplements may be a beneficial addition to type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment plans. Of course, consult with your healthcare practitioner first before adding any new supplement to your health plan.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition