Impact of Dietary Fiber Consumption on Insulin Resistance and the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

J Nutr. 2018 Jan 1;148(1):7-12. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxx008.


Large prospective cohort studies consistently show associations of a high dietary fiber intake (>25 g/d in women and >38 g/d in men) with a 20-30% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), after correction for confounders. It is less well recognized that these effects appear to be mainly driven by high intakes of whole grains and insoluble cereal fibers, which typically are nonviscous and do not relevantly influence postprandial glucose responses [i.e., glycemic index (GI)] or are strongly fermented by the gut microbiota in the colon. In contrast, a dietary focus on soluble, viscous, gel-forming, more readily fermentable fiber intakes derived from fruit and certain vegetables yields mixed results and generally does not appear to reduce T2D risk. Although disentangling types of fiber-rich foods and separating these from possible effects related to the GI is an obvious challenge, the common conclusion that key metabolic effects of high-fiber intake are explained by mechanisms that should mainly apply to the soluble, viscous type can be challenged. More recently, studies in humans and animal models focused on gaining mechanistic insights into why especially high-cereal-fiber (HCF) diets appear to improve insulin resistance (IR) and diabetes risk. Although effects of HCF diets on weight loss are only moderate and comparable to other types of dietary fibers, possible novel mechanisms have emerged, which include the prevention of the absorption of dietary protein and modulation of the amino acid metabolic signature. Here we provide an update of our previous review from 2008, with a focus on mechanistic insights of how HCF diets may improve IR and the risk of developing T2D.

Keywords: amino acid metabolic signature; dietary fiber; insulin resistance; short-chain fatty acids; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Satiation
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids