Fiber and Physiological and Potentially Therapeutic Effects of Slowing Carbohydrate Absorption

  • David JA Jenkins
  • Alexandra L. Jenkins
  • Thomas MS Wolever
  • Vladimir Vuksan
  • Furio Brighenti
  • Guilio Testolin
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 270)


The dietary recommendations of diabetes associations, heart foundations, and cancer agencies encourage the use of higher carbohydrate intakes derived from minimally processed or high fiber foods (1–5). A characteristic of such foods is often that they are more slowly absorbed than many refined and highly processed foods. The assumption that slow absorption of nutrients is of benefit is central to the original fiber hypothesis (6) and has been described as a new therapeutic principle (7). Fibers that have proved especially useful include the soluble fibers. Early on purified soluble fibers such as guar and pectin were found to be particularly useful in lowering cholesterol in patients at high risk of heart disease (8,9). This paved the way for current interest in high soluble fiber foods such as beans, oats (e.g. oat bran), barley, etc., all of which have been shown to have these effects (10). Our own current interest has been in the use of traditional starchy foods, e.g. beans, dried peas, lentils, barley, etc., or starchy foods processed in traditional ways, e.g. pumpernickel bread (whole kernel rye), bulgur (cracked parboiled wheat), pasta, etc. These foods reduce serum cholesterol in patients at risk of heart disease and also provide better blood glucose control in patients with diabetes. There is also evidence that they may be of benefit in liver disease and in kidney disease because of their effects on amino acid and nitrogen metabolism. A growing body of evidence suggests that many traditionally processed foods, especially those still eaten in parts of the world where heart disease, diabetes and colonic diseases are rare, may owe much to the fact that their carbohydrate, possibly due to fiber content, is more slowly absorbed. Other means by which these same effects can be produced include the use of specific digestive enzyme inhibitors and increased feeding frequency.


Glycemic Index Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide Soluble Fiber Glycemic Response Slow Absorption 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • David JA Jenkins
    • 1
  • Alexandra L. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Thomas MS Wolever
    • 1
  • Vladimir Vuksan
    • 1
  • Furio Brighenti
    • 2
  • Guilio Testolin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of TorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Science and Food TechnologyUniversity of MilanItaly

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