While psyllium fiber content makes it popular among people with digestive issues, since it gently regulates bowel movements, its role in the control of blood sugar and body weight may be an additional bonus of this useful herb. This study presents evidence showing that the water-soluble fiber of psyllium improves glycemic control and body weight in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Al-Azhar University of Gaza, in Palestine, with the purpose of determining whether the intake of psyllium soluble fiber improves glycemic index and body weight in sufferers of type 2 diabetes. It included 40 patients who were on anti-diabetes medication - 20 male and 20 female all in the range of 35 - 60 years old.
During eight weeks, the test group was administered psyllium's soluble fiber on a daily basis, 15 minutes before lunch (7.0 g) and dinner (3.5 g), with five ounces (150 mL) of water, and the patients in the control group remained on their regular diet without any changes. Besides the addition of the fiber to one group, the diets and lifestyles of all participants remained the same.
Although four participants withdrew during the period of the study, the remaining 36 (18 in each group) completed the trial successfully. In the short duration of eight weeks, substantial changes were registered in the test patients compared with the unfavorable results of the control group.
The addition of psyllium soluble fiber before meals - without any other dietary changes - averagely resulted in a reduction of weight (6.4 pounds or 2.9 kg), body mass (0.9), waist circumference (0.4 inches or 1.1 cm), and hip circumference (an inch or 2 cm). Regarding glycemic control, the test group also had positive results, showing an overall reduction of 12.2% in glucose absorption.
The same indicators were significantly increased in the members of the control group, who didn't take psyllium.
What Does This Mean?
It was shown that the water-soluble fiber of psyllium lowers blood sugar levels by delaying intestinal transit, leading to a sense of fullness and slowing glucose absorption into the bloodstream. The study showed a reduction in the rise of blood sugar after meals, with positive effects on the regulation of other metabolic indicators, such as weight and body mass. In this way, the results of the study contribute to validating the key role of psyllium for weight control in patients with type 2 diabetes.