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Eating More Fiber Might Help You Live Longer

Dorathy Gass

According to a recent study, individuals who eat foods rich in fiber could live longer than those who don’t. The research project examined close to a million people, and gathered data from existing studies that tracked 982,411 men and women (mostly in Europe and the U.S.A.), and noting approximately 67,000 deaths.

According to Yang, of the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China, and colleagues in the American Journal of Epidemiology, individuals should be encouraged to increase their daily dietary fiber intake “to potentially decrease the risk of premature death.”

The team took a closer look at the participants in the study, by breaking them into five groups, based on their daily fiber diets. Individuals who consumed greater amount of fiber every day, decreased their chances of death by 16 percent, when compared to those who ate lower daily fibre amounts. As well, the research indicated that those who increased their daily fibre intake by 10 grams decreased their risk of death by 10 per cent.

“On average, intakes of dietary fiber in the U.S. and other economically developed countries are much lower than recommended goals – in the U.S., about half of what is advised,” said Victoria Burley, a nutrition researcher at the University of Leeds in the UK, who was not involved in the study.

The research results are “very much in line with earlier published meta-analyses of the relationship between dietary fiber and risk of major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, and cancers,” Burley told Reuters Health in an email.

Burley adds that advantages to fiber-rich diets is not a new concept, and has been linked to lowering of blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin, and possibly reducing inflammation. Foods that are high in fibre also help control obesity and weight issues, as these items help individuals feel full for longer periods of time. Burley states, “Some or all of these factors may underlie the reduction in mortality observed here.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture adults should ensure 14 grams of fiber in every 1,000 calories daily; which results in approximately 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men. In terms of increasing an extra 10 grams of fiber daily, Burley notes. “This can come from two servings of whole grain foods, such as breakfast cereal and two servings of fruit or vegetables, for example.”

Burley also mentions that other factors could have contributed to the results in the study, pointing out that some individuals decrease their risk of illness and death not only because of their fibre intake, but overall nutrition, fitness routines, and a healthy lifestyle. She notes that the study did not cover fiber supplements as an adequate form of replacing high-fiber foods.

Jessica Shapiro, a wellness dietitian at Montefiore Medicine Center in New York, recommends reading nutrition labels on foods, and making a conscience effort to reach for items with at least three grams of fiber in each serving. Shapiro also suggests choosing a diverse set of high-fibre foods for your daily diet that include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts.

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