Dietary fiber and the glycemic response

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1985 Dec;180(3):422-31. doi: 10.3181/00379727-180-42199.


Addition of purified fiber to carbohydrate test meals has been shown to flatten the glycemic response in both normal and diabetic volunteers, reduce the insulin requirement in patients on the artificial pancreas and in the longer term reduce urinary glucose loss and improve diabetes control. In the context of high fiber-high carbohydrate diets these findings have had a major impact in influencing recommendations for the dietary management of diabetes internationally. The mechanism of action appears in part to be due to the effect of fiber in slowing absorption rather than by increasing colonic losses of carbohydrate. Consequently postprandial GIP and insulin levels are reduced and the more viscous purified fibers (e.g., guar and pectin) appear most effective. In addition it has been suggested that colonic fermentation products of fiber may enhance glucose utilization. More recently it has become clear that many aspects of carbohydrate foods (food form, antinutrients, etc.) in addition to fiber may influence the rate of digestion and has led to a classification especially of starchy foods in terms of glycemic index to define the degree to which equicarbohydrate portions of different foods raise the blood glucose. Use of such data may maximize the effectiveness of high carbohydrate and high fiber diets in the management of diabetes and related disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Digestion / drug effects
  • Edible Grain
  • Fabaceae
  • Food
  • Galactans / pharmacology
  • Gastric Emptying / drug effects
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Kinetics
  • Mannans / pharmacology
  • Pectins / pharmacology
  • Plant Gums
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Viscosity


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Galactans
  • Insulin
  • Mannans
  • Plant Gums
  • Pectins
  • guar gum