Eating food that is high in fiber and that has a low glycemic index may help to prevent diabetes. The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high glycemic index are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Diets consisting of foods with a low glycemic index have been shown to improve both glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. A low glycemic diet is good for weight control because it helps control appetite and delay hunger. Such a diet will also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

Research appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Vol. 167 No. 21, November 26, 2007) observed a cohort of 64,227 Chinese women with no history of diabetes or other chronic disease at baseline for 4.6 years. The researchers identified 1608 incident cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus in 297,755 person-years of follow-up. Dietary carbohydrate intake and consumption of rice were positively associated with risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. The higher the glycemic load, the more likely for the subjects to develop diabetes.

Other research appearing in the same issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, used data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a prospective cohort study of 59,000 black women in the United States. Once again, eating high glycemic foods increased the risk of developing diabetes. In this study, fiber intake reduced the risk for diabetes. Cereal fiber intake was inversely associated with risk of diabetes, that association being especially strong for women with a low body-mass index (not obese).