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Controlling Blood Sugar to Regulate Body Weight

July 2007

By Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD

Fiber Promotes Satiety, Aids Weight Management

Diets high in fiber may protect against unwanted weight gain via several mechanisms that involve effects on satiety and glucose and insulin responses.25 For example, research has shown that vegetarians weigh significantly less than non-vegetarians, whether measured by body mass index or body weight.26 Some experts believe that vegetarians’ lower average body weight is linked to one factor: the high fiber content of the plant foods consumed.27 Plant fiber fills you up quickly, and studies indicate that this results in less snacking and binging later in the day.

The transnational Seven Countries Study provides additional evidence linking a high-fiber diet with lower body weight. Researchers found that people living in countries with high fiber intake weighed less than those living in countries where fiber intake is low.28 Higher fiber intake is also associated with lower average body weight in the US. In the Nurses Health Study, a prospective observational cohort study of female nurses aged 38 to 63 without known cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes at baseline, those who ingested more dietary fiber consistently weighed less than did those who consumed less fiber.25

Finally, in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study examining how heart disease develops in adults, researchers linked dietary fiber intake with body weight and waist-to-hip ratios, along with various markers of heart disease risk. Higher fiber consumption predicted less weight gain more strongly than did total or saturated fat consumption.27

Fiber Lowers CRP, Reduces Cardiac Risk

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a special type of protein whose levels are increased in the blood in response to inflammation. People who smoke, have high blood pressure, are overweight, or have sedentary lifestyles often have elevated CRP, whereas lean, active people usually have lower levels. Like high serum cholesterol, high levels of C-reactive protein carry an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Diets high in soluble fiber can help reduce CRP and thus lower the risk of heart disease.23

One review article noted a 28% reduction in CRP levels when volunteers consumed a whole-foods diet rich in soluble fiber.23 In another trial, 55 healthy adults were assigned one of three diets: a diet low in saturated fat; the same diet plus a cholesterol-lowering statin drug; or the same diet plus increased amounts of plant sterols, viscous fiber, soy protein, and nuts. After one month, serum C-reactive protein levels fell in all three groups. In the low-fat diet group, CRP dropped 10%, a difference not considered statistically significant. However, those who consumed a low-fat diet enriched with plant sterols and fibers achieved a statistically significant 28% reduction in CRP—nearly equaling the 33% drop seen in those taking a powerful statin drug.24

Supplementing with Beta-Glucans

New Study: Beta-Glucans Supplement PropelS Weight Loss

A recent trial demonstrates the ability of a high-viscosity fiber supplement containing beta-glucans to promote satiety and weight loss.

Scheduled for publication in late 2007, this trial examined seven overweight or obese adults (with body mass indexes ranging from 25 to 35) who consumed 4 grams of a fiber blend containing beta-glucans each day for 16 weeks. The combination of the fiber supplement with a calorie-restricted diet and healthy lifestyle led to significant weight loss in the participants. In addition, the study participants reported a decrease in hunger and an earlier onset of fullness when eating.29

Adults seeking an effective way to manage their fluctuating blood glucose levels and stabilize their weight should consider supplementing with highly viscous beta-glucan fibers. Nutritional scientists have now made these beneficial fibers available in a pleasant-tasting drink mix that provides 5 grams of fiber per serving, or one fifth of the recommended daily fiber intake of 25 grams.

According to the FDA, foods containing soluble fiber from whole oats (oat bran, oat flour, and rolled oats) may reduce the risk of heart disease when used in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. To qualify for the health claim, foods containing whole oats must provide at least 750 milligrams of soluble fiber per serving.30

To achieve cholesterol-lowering effects, doses of 3-6 grams of oat beta-glucans per day may be indicated.30

Oat beta-glucans are generally considered safe and well tolerated. The Physician’s Desk Reference reports no contraindications or precautions for using beta-glucans, and the only noted adverse effect is occasional intestinal gas.30


Supplementing your daily diet with beta-glucan fibers derived from oats and barley is an ideal way to capture the abundant health benefits of optimal dietary fiber intake.

When taken with meals, viscous beta-glucan fibers offer a convenient way to modulate the body’s response to carbohydrate-containing foods. In addition, these beta-glucan-rich grains can help lower potentially harmful blood lipids and avert the myriad dangers of metabolic syndrome. By promoting a feeling of satiety or fullness, beta-glucans can also contribute powerfully to healthy body weight management.


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