Upping the intake of fiber can lower the risk of chronic diseases like cancer or stroke and, overall, prevent early mortality.
Benefits Of High-Fiber Diet
A new paper reviewed previously published observational studies and clinical trials to see the relationship between different types of carbohydrates — sugar and fibers from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — to the health. They found that people who consumed the highest amount of dietary fiber per day decreased their likelihood of experiencing coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and mortality by 15 to 30 percent compared to those who had a low intake of dietary fiber.
“This study is essential as there is increased public confusion over what to base our meal choices on, and the impact our dietary choices have on our risk of certain diseases,” said study co-author Jim Mann, a professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand. “While we all knew that dietary fiber was good for us we didn’t know the extent to which the old mantra was true.”
The researchers also found that those who increased the amount of dietary fiber in their daily meals had lower body weight and total cholesterol, adding to the long list of the benefits of eating the type of carbohydrate.
The analysis also did not find any danger associated with eating high amounts of fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (note that supplements do not count). In fact, the researchers found that upping the amount of fiber in one’s daily diet is more beneficial.
Achieving Better Overall Health
Current government dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day. However, the researchers warned that most people globally only get about 20 grams of fiber a day, below the minimum recommended daily intake.
“Fiber and whole grains are important physiologically, metabolically, and even to gut microbiome,” explained Andrew Reynolds, lead author of the paper. “Eating high fiber and whole grain foods is of a clear benefit to our health by reducing the occurrence of a surprisingly broad range of important diseases.”
To meet the recommended daily intake of fiber, the U.S. Food and Drug Authority suggests eating more fruits and vegetables and switching from refined to whole grains of commonly consumed foods such as bread, rice, pasta.
The paper was commissioned by the World Health Organization. The findings were published in the journal The Lancet.