Fiber has long been known to be useful when it comes to dietary glycemic control of diabetes. For instance, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association, fiber has many benefits for diabetics. Because it takes longer to digest, it can slow gastric emptying and thus avoid the postprandial spikes in blood sugar that can present such a challenge for those living with this disease. It has the added benefit of being heart healthy, a great advantage to diabetics already at a greater risk for cardiac disease. That is why fiber plays such a hefty role in dietary recommendations for diabetics and pre-diabetics alike.

One common means of increasing fiber in the diet is through supplementation with high-fiber products such as psyllium. According to the National Institute of Health, the most common use of this supplement is for treatment of constipation, due to its ability to absorb fluids from the small intestines and help to create a stool that is bulky and easy to pass. Under certain circumstances, it will also be used to treat diarrhea as well. However, it has also been increasingly appreciated for its ability to help stabilize diabetic blood sugars.

Psyllium was studied in particular in a paper just published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This paper did a meta-analysis of 35 other studies on the relationship between psyllium fiber supplementation and glycemic control. In these studies, spanning more than 3 decades, it was found that psyllium did in fact lead to lower fasting blood sugars, lower glucose concentrations and lower levels of glycated hemoglobin, all important markers for this disease. Interestingly, the psyllium appeared to have a more marked affect on patient already diagnosed with diabetes than it did on those labeled "pre-diabetic". The authors of the paper concluded that psyllium should be considered to be "an effective addition to a lifestyle intervention program" for diabetics.

This said, however, psyllium should not be considered to be a "silver bullet" and nor should it be taken without first consulting with a doctor. The National Institute of Health goes on to note that there are many things to be taken into consideration. Patient education needs to be intensive, particularly when it comes to the need to take psyllium with at least 8 ounces of fluid each time to prevent severe constipation. Regular exercise and a high-fiber diet in conjunction with this supplementation can also help to prevent this problem. It should also not be taken within three hours of using other medications such as digoxin, aspirin or nitrofurantoin antibiotics like Macrobid. Women who are pregnant should consult their doctors before beginning or continuing to use this supplement.

Overall, though, psyllium should definitely be considered by any patient who is seeking more natural ways to control their diabetes from day to day. For many people, this may well be an excellent method to help stabilize the blood sugars and improve daily glycemic control. It is an inexpensive supplement, is readily available from pharmacies and even some grocery stores and is easy to use. It is made even more attractive by the fact that it comes in capsules, powders or even wafers to accommodate a variety of patient preferences. For those wanting to improve their blood sugar stability naturally, it is a good idea to discuss this with the doctor as an addition to a holistic diabetic plan of care.

For more information on the latest psyllium study, go to:

Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for a number of prestigious web sites. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own health conditions and daily circumstances.