High fiber diets may benefit people with high blood pressure, diabetes

In a new study, researchers found patients with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes who consume a high fiber diet had an improvement in their blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting glucose.

Hypertension and diabetes are major risk factors for future cardiovascular disease. Diet also plays a role in the severity of the cardiovascular disease.

In the study, researchers from Care Well Heart and Super Specialty Hospital examined the relationship between a high fiber diet and its impact on heart disease risk factors.

According to guidelines from the National Institute of Nutrition and the Indian Council of Medical Research, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for dietary fiber is 40gm/2000kcal.

Patients in this study had type 2 diabetes and a calorie intake of 1,200-1,500kcal, causing their RDA for fiber to be 24-30gm.

The fiber intake of these patients was increased up to 20 to 25% from the recommended allowances for them to be consuming a high fiber diet.

The study tracked 200 participants’ fiber intake for six months and included check-ups at the start of the study, three months and six months.

Participants were provided with diet prescriptions, which included detailed lists of different food groups with portion sizes in regional languages.

Qualified dietitians provided the information through regular counseling sessions and used audio-visual aids to ensure understanding among study participants.

The researchers tracked participants’ fiber intake several ways, including having patients send photos of their meals on WhatsApp—which not only helped in knowing their fiber intake but also helped approximate portion sizes—and telephone calls three times a week during which detailed dietary recall was taken.

They found patients on a high fiber diet experienced significant improvement in several cardiovascular risk factors, including a 9% reduction in serum cholesterol, 23% reduction in triglycerides, 15% reduction of systolic blood pressure and a 28% reduction of fasting glucose.

The researchers found a high fiber diet is inversely related to heart risk factors and plays a protective role against heart disease.

The team says this study helps them determine three important things for the patient population.

Firstly, a high fiber diet is important in cases of diabetes and hypertension to prevent future cardiovascular disease.

Secondly, medical nutrition therapy and regular counseling sessions also hold great importance in treating and prevention of diabetes and hypertension.

Thirdly, this type of diet in combination with medical treatment can improve dyslipidemia, pulse wave velocity, waist-to-hip ratio and hypertension.

The lead author of the study is Rohit Kapoor, MD.

The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Middle East Conference 2019.

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