Consuming high fiber foods is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The study looked at observational studies over the last 40 years and found that health benefits were closely associated with consuming between 25 to 29 grams or more of dietary fiber daily.
The consumption of high fiber foods was associated with a 15 to 30 percent reduced risk in all-cause and cardiovascular-related mortality compared to those who eat the least amount of fiber daily.
Fiber-rich foods were also associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer by 16 to 24 percent. Of 1,000 participants, this results in 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of heart disease.
An increase in fiber-rich foods is also linked with lower weight and cholesterol levels.
Globally, the average intake of fiber is less than 20 grams, with many Americans consuming less than 15 grams – far below the recommended 30 to 35 grams recommended for men and 20 to 25 grams for women. Rich sources of fiber include whole grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruits.
Corresponding author Professor Jim Mann explained, “Previous reviews and meta-analyses have usually examined a single indicator of carbohydrate quality and a limited number of diseases, so it has not been possible to establish which foods to recommend for protecting against a range of conditions. Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fiber and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases.”
The study involved 185 observational studies which contained data that could relate to 135 million human years along with 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adults. The researchers looked specifically at heart disease cases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and other cancers that are commonly associated with obesity.
Every eight grams of increase in dietary fiber was associated with a decrease in a variety of diseases by five to 27 percent. The greater intake of fiber was associated with even greater reductions in disease.
Mann continued, “The health benefits of fiber are supported by over 100 years of research into its chemistry, physical properties, physiology and effects on metabolism. Fiber-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favorably influence lipid and glucose levels. The breakdown of fiber in the large bowel by the resident bacteria has additional wide-ranging effects including protection from colorectal cancer.”
The authors did note that high fiber diets may pose a risk for those with low iron as it may deplete iron further. Speak to your dietician if you fall into that category. Lastly, it is advised you take in fiber from natural sources like food and through your diet rather than taking supplements as it is better absorbed.
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