High-fiber Diet May Decrease Risk of Chronic Diseases

A recent study published in The Lancet found that a diet high in fiber has a variety health benefits. 

Researchers queried numerous databases for prospective studies and randomized controlled trials pertaining to the association between carbohydrate quality and chronic disease, mortality, and risk factors. Studies that included patients with a chronic disease or pertained to weight loss and involved supplements were not included. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a chronic disease, generally, as a condition lasting for at least one year that requires prolonged medical care and/or restricts activities of daily living. Chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. According to the CDC, six out of every 10 adults live with a chronic disease, and four in 10 have two or more. 

Final analysis in the present study included about 135 million person-years of data, spanning 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials that included 4,635 patients. According to the study, the patients consuming the highest amounts of fiber had a 15–30% decreased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, as well as incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke incidence and mortality, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer compared to the lowest dietary fiber consumers, as well as decreased body weight, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol. Researchers associated positive outcomes with a daily dietary fiber intake between 25 g and 29 g. Dose-response curves revealed a correlation between high fiber intake and protection from cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal and breast cancer. Increased whole grain intake offered similar preventative benefits. There were no significant effects observed in diets based on low versus high glycemic index or load. 

One of the study’s limitations is that it focused on preventative effects in the overall population and did not include patients already living with chronic disease. 

“Findings from prospective studies and clinical trials associated with relatively high intakes of dietary fibre and whole grains were complementary, and striking dose-response evidence indicates that the relationships to several non-communicable diseases could be causal,” the study authors wrote. “Implementation of recommendations to increase dietary fibre intake and to replace refined grains with whole grains is expected to benefit human health.” 

A Little Fiber Goes a Long Way 

Source: The Lancet