A high-fiber diet protects against premature death and chronic diseases

A high-fiber diet protects against premature death and chronic diseases

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Why people should eat more fiber

Physicians have now found that a high-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of premature death and diseases such as a stroke or cancer.

The University of Otago scientists found in their current study that a high-fiber diet has a lower risk of premature death and chronic diseases. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".

Benefits of taking fiber

Dietary fiber includes vegetable carbohydrates such as whole grains, seeds and some legumes. The health benefits of fiber have long been known. Research shows that higher fiber intake leads to a reduced incidence of a surprisingly wide range of relevant diseases (heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer), say the doctors. In addition, the intake of fiber leads to a reduced body weight, a reduced cholesterol level and a lower mortality, explains study author Andrew Reynolds from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Similar findings appeared with increasing whole grain intake.

Over 200 study results were evaluated

For their investigation, the researchers analyzed over 180 observational studies and 50 clinical studies from the past four decades. The health benefits of fiber appear to be even greater than previously thought, the experts explain. The analysis showed a 15 to 30 percent lower risk of premature death and chronic illness in people who consumed the most fiber with their diet compared to those with the lowest intake.

How much fiber should people eat every day?

A high-fiber diet was associated with an average 22 percent reduced risk of stroke, 16 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer, and 30 percent lower risk of death from coronary artery disease. Most people consume about 20 grams of fiber every day. Based on the research results, the experts recommend consuming 25 grams to 29 grams of fiber every day. According to the analysis, higher amounts are even more advantageous.

Risks from too much fiber?

A 15 gram increase in whole grains consumed per day was associated with a 2 to 19 percent reduction in overall deaths and incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. The examination did not reveal any health risks from high fiber intake. However, a high proportion of whole grains in the diet of people with iron deficiency can further reduce the iron content.

Were there any restrictions in the study?

The study also found a small reduction in risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes in people who followed a diet with a low glycemic index. Such a diet includes foods such as green vegetables, most fruits, and kidney beans. One limitation of the analysis is that only healthy people were involved in the studies. The results therefore do not apply to people with chronic diseases. Most of the studies have been done in Western societies. It is not 100 percent certain that the results will also apply to less privileged societies, the scientists say.

How can I include more fiber in my diet?

Any increase in fiber has health benefits and only minor dietary changes are required to achieve health benefits. For example, a person could easily add eight grams of fiber to their diet when eating a breakfast of bran, four dried apricots, and a handful of almonds, experts advise. Practical ways to increase fiber intake include increased intake of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and whole fruits. (as)

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