Psyllium fiber improves glycemic control proportional to loss of glycemic control: a meta-analysis of data in euglycemic subjects, patients at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and patients being treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1604-14. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.106989. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Background: A number of health benefits are associated with intake of soluble, viscous, gel-forming fibers, including reduced serum cholesterol and the attenuation of postprandial glucose excursions.

Objective: We assess the effects of psyllium, which is a soluble, gel-forming, nonfermented fiber supplement, on glycemic control in patients who were being treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and in patients who were at risk of developing T2DM.

Design: A comprehensive search was performed of available published literature (Scopus scientific database) and clinical records stored by Procter & Gamble with the use of key search terms to identify clinical studies that assessed the glycemic effects of psyllium in nondiabetic, pre-T2DM, and T2DM patients.

Results: We identified 35 randomized, controlled, clinical studies that spanned 3 decades and 3 continents. These data were assessed in 8 meta-analyses. In patients with T2DM, multiweek studies (psyllium dosed before meals) showed significant improvement in both the fasting blood glucose (FBG) concentration (-37.0 mg/dL; P < 0.001) and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) [-0.97% (-10.6 mmol/mol); P = 0.048]. Glycemic effects were proportional to baseline FBG; no significant glucose lowering was observed in euglycemic subjects, a modest improvement was observed in subjects with pre-T2DM, and the greatest improvement was observed in subjects who were being treated for T2DM.

Conclusions: These data indicate that psyllium would be an effective addition to a lifestyle-intervention program. The degree of psyllium's glycemic benefit was commensurate with the loss of glycemic control. Because the greatest effect was seen in patients who were being treated for T2DM, additional studies are needed to determine how best to incorporate psyllium into existing prevention and treatment algorithms with concomitant hypoglycemic medications.

Keywords: diabetes; fiber; glycemic; glycemic control; meta-analysis; metabolic syndrome; psyllium; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / adverse effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Prebiotics* / adverse effects
  • Prediabetic State / blood
  • Prediabetic State / diet therapy*
  • Prediabetic State / epidemiology
  • Prediabetic State / prevention & control
  • Psyllium / adverse effects
  • Psyllium / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Prebiotics
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Psyllium