Long heralded as part of a healthy diet, fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation, as well as cancer of the colon, breast, ovary, endometrium, gastrointestinal tract, esophagus, mouth, pharynx, stomach and rectum. Research has found that populations that consume more dietary fiber have less chronic disease. For instance, a high total dietary fiber intake was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a constellation of factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. These factors include high blood pressure, high insulin levels, excess weight (especially around the abdomen), high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.*
Type-2 diabetes – Consuming a high-fiber diet may reduce your risk for developing type-2 diabetes. In fact, a diet low in fiber and rich in high-glycemic-index foods (foods that cause a big spike in blood sugar) more than doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to a diet high in fiber and low in high-glycemic-index foods.
Gallstones – A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology based on data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which looked at more than 69,000 women over a 16 year period, found that those consuming the most fiber, both soluble and insoluble, had a 13-17% lower risk of developing gallstones compared to women consuming the fewest fiber-rich foods and the protection was dose-related.**
Diverticulitis, an inflammation of the intestine, affects an estimated 1/3 of those over age 45 and 2/3 of those over age 85. In a long-term follow-up study, dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, was associated with about a 40 percent lower risk of diverticular disease.*** Many experts believe that a low-fiber diet can lead to diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Many studies show that eating fiber-rich foods can help control diverticular symptoms. Try to eat at least 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
Asthma – A recent study discovered that a high-fiber diet reduces the damaging effects of allergy-induced airway disease, which leads to asthma.****
Constipation – the most common GI complaint in the US is highly sensitive to dietary fiber, and consumption of fiber seems to relieve and prevent constipation.
According to the American Dietetic Association, we should be consuming 14 g of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories, i.e. ~25 g for adult women and ~38 g for adult men. The United States National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine recommends 21-38 grams of dietary fiber a day, depending on age and sex. The more calories you eat each day, the more fiber you need. Yet the average American eats only 12-18 grams of dietary fiber a day.
Here at BarnDad Nutrition we know that eating perfectly isn’t easy, so we’ve made it simple to get all the fiber you need. Experts recommend that you increase your fiber intake gradually and increase your fluid intake as well, since fiber absorbs water. Click here for more information or to order.
*Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2008. http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yjada/article/S0002-8223%2808%2901566-6/fulltext
** Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Jul:99(7):1364-70. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15233680
*** www.WebMD.com Diverticulitis Diet
****Increase in dietary fiber dampens allergic responses in the lung. Nature Medicine. 2014(20):120–121
Dietary fibre dampens asthma. Nature. 2014 Jan:09(505):134–135