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May 2011: Dietary fiber lowers premature death risks


A role of dietary fiber in preventing chronic diseases has been a topic of great interest for many years. Several large studies so far have shown that fiber, the component of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that resists digestion, lowers risk of heart disease [1] , some cancers [2], diabetes [3], and obesity [4].

A new study, including more than 500,000 people, found that the dietary fiber intake of almost 30 grams per day for men, and 26 for women lowered risk of dying from any cause for 22 % [5]. Besides, higher fiber consumption lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases from 24% to 56% in men, and from 34% to 59% in women. Interestingly, the study also showed that fiber from whole grains expressed the strongest association in reducing mortality. Therefore, including fiber and a lot of different non-processed grain sources in a daily menu may lead to significant health benefits.


Main text:

It has been widely accepted that fiber helps bowel movements, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and improves glucose levels in the blood, promotes weight loss, and reduces inflammation.


Findings of a recent study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine acknowledge new beneficial role of dietary fiber in mortality incidence. According to this study getting lots of dietary fiber reduces the risk of dying, particularly from cardiovascular, infectious or respiratory diseases [5]. These findings are based on data analysis including more than 500,000 individuals aged from 50 to 71. In this study the highest dietary fiber intake of 30 grams per day for men and 26 for women expressed 22% lower risk of dying from any cause over nine years of follow-up, compared with those with the lowest fiber intake (13 grams per day for men and 11 for women). Besides, the authors of the study found out that higher fiber consumption lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases from 24% to 56% in men, and from 34% to 59% in women. A strong correlation between fiber consumption and death from cancer, especially in men population, has also been recorded. Comparing fiber from different sources and their capability in reducing mortality there was a significant link, in both men and woman, between a diet rich in grains and mortality incidence. Because fiber is a component of whole grains, the researchers say that fiber isolates probably do not provide the same benefits as intact, whole grains.


The authors of the study noted that these results match with findings seen in prior studies with higher fiber intake. The beneficial role of fiber is possible due to its effect on blood pressure, insulin factors and lipids. However, the anti-inflammatory properties of fiber could be another part of the explanation for reductions in mortality.


By: Svetlana Obradovic and Luuk Simons


[1] Rimm E.B., A. Ascherio, E.Giovannucci, D.Spiegelman et.al. (1996). Vegetable, fruit, and cereal fiber intake and risk of coronary heart disease among men.JAMA 275, pp. 447-451.



[2] Park Y., D. Hunter, D. Spiegelman, L. Bergkvist et.al. (2005). Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer. JAMA 294, pp. 2849-2857.



[3] Schulze, M.B., S. Liu, E.B. Rimm, J.E. Manson et.al. (2004). Glycemic index, glycemic load, and dietary fiber intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes in younger and middle-aged women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, pp.348-356.



[4] Simin L., W.C. Willett, J.E. Manson, F.B. Hu et.al. (2003). Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78, pp. 920-927.



[5] Park, Y., A.F. Subar, A.Hollenbeck, A. Schatzkin (2011). Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Arch Intern Med. Published online February 14, 2011. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.18


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