Cereal fiber, fruit fiber, and type 2 diabetes: Explaining the paradox

Karen M. Davison, Norman J. Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


While the relationship between dietary fiber and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has been much studied, the evidence about its role in the prevention and control of this condition has been conflicting. We critically evaluate prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined insoluble/nonviscous/cereal fiber and soluble/viscous/fruit fiber in relation to risk of T2DM. Taken as a whole this evidence indicates that, in the quantities typically eaten, cereal fiber is protective against T2DM while fruit fiber gives little protection. We argue that the protective action of cereal fiber may be explained by the modulating effects of gut microbiota through mechanisms such as: 1) improving glucose tolerance via energy metabolism pathways (colonic fermentation and generation of short-chain fatty acids); 2) reducing inflammation; and 3) altering the immune response. By gaining more knowledge of specific host and gut microbial functional pathways involved in T2DM development and the potential role of cereal fiber, appropriate disease prevention and intervention strategies may be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Diabetes and its Complications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb. 2018


  • Cereal fiber
  • Diabetes
  • Dietary fiber
  • Microbiome
  • Type 2 diabetes


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