Why choose a high fiber diet

November 12, 2012

Why choose a high fiber diet

Recent studies have shown that following a high fiber diet not only leaves individuals feeling fuller for longer but also appears to reduce the risk of premature death from heart disease, respiratory disease and a number of infections.

The study revealed that both men and women who were following a high fiber diet appeared to be at 22% less risk of death from any cause in comparison to those individuals who at less fiber. The study concluded that the most beneficial dietary fiber is sourced from whole grain cereals rather than fruits and vegetables.

Previous studies

Previous studies in this field have focussed on the benefit of a high fiber diet in relation to prevention of cardiovascular disease but not necessarily on the relationship between dietary fibre and premature death. This new study is intended to add to current information and suggests that a high fiber diet is implicated in a reduced risk of premature death.

Fiber, cholesterol and blood sugar

It is well known that following a high fiber diet is beneficial to heart health due to the effect of dietary fiber on both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

It is currently not yet understood why increased fibre intake may be instrumental in reducing the risk from respiratory diseases and infection; however, the best results were seen in connection with inflammatory infections – which appears to indicate that dietary fiber may have anti-inflammatory properties. This may also explain its benefits to heart health since cardiac disease is thought to be linked to inflammation.

On a cautionary note the authors of the latest study point out that those who eat a high fiber diet may well be generally healthier than those who do not which would explain the lower risk of premature death.

Large study

This large study, carried out from 1995 onwards, was extensive, involving almost 4,000 men and women. The volunteers were asked to self complete questionnaires regarding the frequency of certain foods in their diet. The participants were then monitored for nine years. The study discovered a number of factors -

  • Men ate between 13 and 29 grams of dietary fiber daily

  • Women ate between 11 and 26 grams

  • The overall risk of death from cardiac disease, respiratory infection and more generalised infection appeared to be reduced by as much as 59% in those consuming the most amount of fiber.

Those who ate the highest amount of fiber also had lifestyle factors in common, such as -

  • Higher levels of education

  • Rated their own health as good

  • Lower BMI reading

  • Physically active

  • More likely to use HRT

  • Less likely to smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol

  • Ate less red meat

However, even after adjustments were made, taking these factors into account, a significant link between high levels of dietary fiber prolonged life expectancy was still noted.

The authors of this study point out that they examined multiple causes of death – in contrast to previous studies which have tended to focus on the effects of dietary fiber on heart attack and stroke risk.

Category: Articles