Stayin' Alive, with Fiber!

Higher intakes of fiber linked to longer life span

February 15, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Dietary fiber intake may be linked to lower death risk from cardiovascular disease, infection and respiratory disease, according to a new study.

Male study participants in the study took in 13 grams to 29 grams of fiber per day, whereas women participants ate 11 grams to 26 grams per day. Researchers looked at data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants completed a food survey in 1995 and 1996, around the beginning of the study.

At follow-up, after an average of 9 years, the results showed that 20,126 men and 11,330 women had died, the causes of which were determined by linking study records to national registries.

Fiber intake was linked to a considerably decreased risk of overall death in both men and women. The number of men and women consuming the most fiber (29 grams per day for men and 26 grams for women) were 22 percent less likely to die than those consuming the least (13 grams per day for men and 12 grams for women).

A reduction in cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was also linked to high fiber intake -- falling from 56 percent in men to 24 percent, and from 59 percent in women to 34 percent.

Fiber makes up some edible parts of plants that resist digestion. High intakes of fiber have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. Fiber has been shown to assist with bowel movements, lower glucose levels and blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.

Foods high in fiber content include whole grain cereals such as Raisin Bran, and prunes, green leafy vegetables and some beans.

"One major opportunity, besides eating more green leafy vegetables, fruit, and beans, where individuals can increase their fiber intake is in switching to whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and brown rice because white bread, pastas, and white rice, refined flours,etc. have had the nutrient rich and most beneficial ingredients stripped from them. One should look at the ingredient list and choose foods that have "Whole Grain" listed as the first ingredient on the package and try to avoid items containing hyrdogenated oils. Typically organic items from a health food store or health food section of a grocery store are the best way to go if that is an option." commented Dr. Mark Bans of Bans Health and Wellness in Austin, TX.

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Review Date: 
February 15, 2011
Last Updated:
August 18, 2011