Choosing fiber-rich foods for you and your kids may be just what the doctor ordered.
A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says dietary fiber may reduce the risk of cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases by 24 percent, to 56 percent in men – and by 34 percent, to 59 percent, in women.
But the key according to researchers is dietary fiber from grains, not from other sources like fruits.
Researchers Yikyung Park, and Arthur Schatzkin, MD of the Nutritional Epidemiology
Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics along with Amy F. Subar, PhD of
the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, and Albert Hollenbeck, PhD of the
National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland; and AARP, were looking to find the effect of dietary fiber intake on total death and cause-specific deaths.
They examined dietary fiber intake in relation to total mortality and death from specific causes in the NIH (National Institutes of Health)-AARP Diet and Health Study, a prospective cohort study. Diet was assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire at baseline. Cause of death was identified using the National Death Index Plus. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate relative risks and 2-sided 95 percent confidence intervals (CIs).
During the 9 year study more than twenty thousand deaths in men and eleven thousand deaths in women were reported. In that group, dietary fiber intake was associated with a significantly lowered risk of total death in both men and women (multivariate relative risk comparing the highest with the lowest quintile, 0.78 [95% CI, 0.73-0.82; P for trend, <.001] in men and 0.78 [95% CI, 0.73-0.85; P for trend, <.001] in women).
Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and cancer death was observed in men but not in women.
The Archives of Internal Medicine says dietary fiber is important in digestion:
“Fiber consists of undigestible plant carbohydrates in both soluble and insoluble forms. Soluble fiber (fruit pectin) dissolves in water to form a gel, whereas insoluble fiber (cellulose from wheat bran) does not.
Both increase stomach distension, which increases satiety, and slow nutrient absorption. Soluble, and to a lesser extent insoluble, fiber is fermented by intestinal bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids, which affect hepatic insulin sensitivity and lipid synthesis.
The main function of insoluble fiber is to increase fecal bulk. Because these changes are thought to protect against the development of chronic diseases, a fiber-rich diet similar to that of early man is probably healthier than current Western-type diets.”
So how much fiber do you need daily?
According to the American Dietetic Association, the daily goal for fiber intake is between 20 and 35 grams.
Children up to age 18 can calculate the recommended daily dose (in grams) by adding five to their age. For example, a five-year-old child would need 10 grams of fiber a day.
People in China consume as much as 77 grams of fiber per day.
The average intake in the United States is just 12 to 15 grams.
American Diabetes Association of Rhode Island
High Fiber Food List