Dietary fibre, glycaemic response, and diabetes



The much publicised global trend in rising levels of obesity and diabetes has refuelled interest in the dietary intake of the macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) necessary to maintain the state of normalcy (good health) of an individual. Both scientific and public attention have focused on the dietary mediation of chronic health syndromes, either through use of dietary supplements, or a review of the whole diet situation. Dietary supplements have been used extensively both as pharmacological supplements, food ingredients, in processed foods to aid weight control, and the regulation of glucose control for diabetic patients. Particular interest has focused on the use of dietary fibres, especially soluble dietary fibres (such as guar gum, locust bean gum, and psyllium fibres), resistant starch, and slowly digestible carbohydrates. These have been shown to alter food structure, texture, and viscosity, and hence the rate of starch degradation during digestion. Research has also illustrated an association between the rate of carbohydrate degradation during digestion, and the regulation of postprandial blood sugar and insulin levels. The current paper explores the potential use of dietary fibres in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.