This week is National Diabetes Week. The most common type of Diabetes is Type 2, in this form of Diabetes, the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels, if unchecked this may lead to organ and nerve damage. Some people may be able to manage Diabetes with lifestyle changes that include diet and exercise.

A recent study published by the journal 'Science' showed a high fiber diet may help control blood glucose levels. The study was done by researchers at Rutgers University and they found that a diet rich in whole grains, probiotics, and traditional Chinese medicinal foods increased the production of beneficial gut flora that supplies short-chain fatty acids. The bacteria promoted hormones that increased insulin production, which led to healthier levels of blood glucose.

The study found that 89 % of people eating a high fiber diet had adequate glycemic control, while only 50 % of those in the control group had healthy blood glucose levels. In summary, a diet rich in certain fibers that work with particular gut flora is beneficial.

So how much fiber should we eat? The American Heart Association recommends a diet that includes 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. There are many foods that are high in fiber, for example whole breakfast grains such as oatmeal and fresh fruit and vegetables. Beans and lentils are one of the best sources of fiber. Dried peas have 16.3 gram of fiber per cup, lentils 15.6 grams per cup, and black beans 15 grams per cup. Beans and lentils also supply vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Yes they contain carbohydrates, but ½ a cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat. 

Take advantage of ‘soup season’ (fall and winter) to add some healthy beans and lentils to your diet. Stews, curries and chilis can be made with garbanzo beanspeas and lentils and are also perfect cool weather dishes.