Metamucil and Diabetes
If you’re a diabetic looking to increase your fiber intake, there is a high chance that you’ve heard of Metamucil. Although it’s possible to acquire enough fiber from whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes, taking a supplement like Metamucil can help control your blood sugar levels and lessen your risk of diabetes — this explains why doctors recommend it.
However, what is the rationale behind the purported benefits associated with the use of Metamucil and diabetes? Let’s have a rundown of its science-backed benefits for diabetics.
What You Should Know About Metamucil
Metamucil is a psyllium-based bulk-forming fiber supplement. Otherwise known as ispaghula, psyllium is a fiber derived from the husks of Plantago ovata seeds. It slows down the absorption of sugar, which can help to lower blood sugar levels.
More importantly, fiber supplements like Metamucil help people with diabetes receive adequate fiber, especially if they are constipated. They serve as a solid backup plan for people with diabetes that can’t get enough fiber from their diet. This is a significant issue since the average American adult consumes about 15 g of fiber daily — about half of the recommended dietary fiber intake of 25–38 g.
Benefits of Metamucil for Diabetes
It’s a no-brainer that adequate fiber intake is essential for people with diabetes. However, there’s more to the use of Metamucil for the management of this condition. Let’s see how.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Metamucil's soluble fiber may help lower total cholesterol by slashing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels. The fiber supplement may also offer other heart-healthy benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and inflammation.
Surprisingly, research conducted on 63 subjects with slightly elevated LDL levels proved that the administration of 12.7 g of psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid did not yield any change in cholesterol levels. Yet, various other researchers claim that the intake of psyllium offers small but significant reductions of cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic individuals. However, these studies pose certain limitations like a small study population and a limited study time. This means further studies might be needed to validate these claims.
Regulates Blood Sugar
According to a 2019 Diabetes Care meta-analysis, people who consumed roughly 13 g (one tablespoon) of viscous fiber every day for a median duration of eight weeks had lower fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c values.
This might be due to Metamucil’s gelling action that slows down sugar absorption from the digestive tract. In the absence of this action, sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, boosting blood sugar levels.
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
A 2017 umbrella review links the consumption of fiber-rich diets and psyllium fibers to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality. This health benefit is attributed to its LDL-cholesterol- and total serum cholesterol-lowering effect.
Another meta-analysis found that those who consumed more fiber had a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and digestive problems. Similarly, an analysis of 22 studies observed that every 7 g of fiber consumed daily reduced the risk of heart disease by 9%. Fiber's ability to absorb extra cholesterol in the body system and transport it out before it clogs the arteries may be a plausible explanation for this.
Aids the Maintenance of a Healthy Weight
By producing a gel in the digestive tract, psyllium fiber supplements like Metamucil can help you feel fuller for longer. In one research, consuming psyllium (Metamucil) before breakfast and lunch for three days in a row increased feelings of fullness and lowered hunger.
Another 12-week study found that supplementing with a high-fiber diet (composed of fiber from a healthy diet and a psyllium supplement) yielded considerable reductions in percent of total body fat, body mass index (BMI), and body weight.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that obese/overweight adults consuming a calorie-restricted diet increased their dietary adherence and lost weight following an increased fiber intake.
Increases Insulin secretion
Supplementing with fiber has been demonstrated to lower blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and boost insulin secretion. In a 2016 study, supplementing with 30 g of insoluble dietary fiber after the intake of a high-fat, high-calorie (HFHC) meal yielded a raised insulin concentration and lowered glucose levels.
Should You Take Fiber Supplements Like Metamucil?
To begin with, fiber supplements do not contain the same amount of fiber as fiber obtained through food. It’s recommended you get your fiber from food sources to ensure you maximally enjoy dietary fiber’s health benefits. However, in cases where you struggle to obtain adequate fiber from food sources, supplements like Metamucil can come in handy.
Still, getting too much fiber can be detrimental to your health, prompting effects like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. More particularly, when you consume more than 50 g of fiber per day, you risk mineral binding — a phenomenon where the body excretes minerals like magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus rather than absorbing them. Hence, consult with your doctor for medical advice before you commence the intake of fiber supplements like Metamucil.
Metamucil and diabetes go hand in hand as it helps lower cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disorders, among others. However, when it comes to boosting your fiber consumption, slow and steady wins the race. Generally, men and women should aim for 38 g and 25 g of fiber daily, respectively. Also, go for fiber supplements like Metamucil only if you struggle to meet these values through food.