Cereal Fiber Improves Whole-Body Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight and Obese Women

  1. Martin O. Weickert, MD12,
  2. Matthias Möhlig, MD12,
  3. Christof Schöfl, MD2,
  4. Ayman M. Arafat, MD2,
  5. Bärbel Otto, MD3,
  6. Hannah Viehoff1,
  7. Corinna Koebnick, PHD4,
  8. Angela Kohl1,
  9. Joachim Spranger, MD12 and
  10. Andreas F.H. Pfeiffer, MD12
  1. 1Department of Clinical Nutrition, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany
  2. 2Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité-University-Medicine, Berlin, Germany
  3. 3Department of Medicine, University Hospital Innenstadt, Munich, Germany
  4. 4Dietary Fiber and the Metabolic Syndrome Laboratory, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Martin O. Weickert, Department of Clinical Nutrition, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, A.-Scheunert-Allee 155, Charitè Campus Benjamin Franklin, Nuthetal 14558, Germany. E-mail: m.weickert{at}mail.dife.de


OBJECTIVE—Cereal fiber intake is linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in epidemiological observations. The pathogenic background of this phenomenon is unknown. Based on recent findings, we hypothesized that intake of purified insoluble oat fiber may improve whole-body insulin sensitivity.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A randomized, controlled, single-blind, cross-over study was performed, and 17 overweight or obese subjects with normal glucose metabolism were analyzed. After consumption of nine macronutrient-matched portions of fiber-enriched bread (white bread enriched with 31.2 g insoluble fiber/day) or control (white bread) over a time period of 72 h, whole-body insulin sensitivity was assessed by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp. Energy intake was individually adjusted by providing standardized liquid meals. Hydrogen breath tests were performed to control for dietary adherence.

RESULTS—When analyzing the entire cohort, whole-body glucose disposal was improved after fiber consumption (M value 6.56 ± 0.32 vs. 6.07 ± 0.27 mg · min−1 · kg−1; P = 0.043). Thirteen subjects had increased hydrogen breath test concentrations after fiber consumption, indicating probable dietary adherence. Restricting analysis to these subjects, improvements in M value (6.85 ± 0.34 vs. 6.06 ± 0.32 mg · min−1 · kg−1; P = 0.003) and insulin sensitivity, expressed as M/I ratio (M value divided by mean serum insulin at steady state: 3.73 ± 0.23 vs. 3.21 ± 0.27; P = 0.02), after fiber consumption were more pronounced. Plasma lipids, serum magnesium, ghrelin, and adiponectin concentrations, as well as substrate utilization and body weight, were not significantly changed by fiber intake (P > 0.15).

CONCLUSIONS—Increased insoluble dietary fiber intake for 3 days significantly improved whole-body insulin sensitivity. These data suggest a potential mechanism linking cereal fiber intake and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Accepted January 2, 2006.
    • Received December 5, 2005.
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