We recently wrote an article on how low-carb diets can help you lose weight. But, that certainly doesn’t mean that all carbohydrates are bad for you. Let’s take a look at fiber. Even though fiber isn’t digestible, it actually provides significant health benefits.
Is Fiber Good For You?:
A recent meta analysis looked at 25 studies and 1,752,848 participants with an average of 12.5 years of follow-up on the relationship between fiber intake and mortality. Fiber intake was categorized as either low, moderate, or high. Here’s the reduction in risk of mortality that the researchers found for a variety of diseases between those who ate the most and least amount of fiber.
- Cardiovascular disease: 23% reduced risk.
- All-cause mortality: 23% reduced risk.
- Cancer: 17% reduced risk.
- Digestive diseases: 68% reduced risk.
- Infectious diseases: 58% reduced risk.
- Inflammatory diseases: 43% reduced risk.
- Respiratory diseases: 47% reduced risk.
- Circulatory diseases: 25% reduced risk.
Here’s the relation between hazard ratio (HR) and fiber intake across 20 studies.
Another meta analysis found that cereal fiber (like wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, seeds and barley) had the greatest protective effect. Vegetable fiber was also significantly associated with reduced mortality risk, but fiber from fruit was found to provide no benefit.
Overall, each additional 10 grams of fiber a day is associated with an 11% reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Unfortunately, the average American only gets 15 grams of fiber a day, even though women are recommended to get 25 grams and men are recommended to get 38 grams. So make sure to up your fiber intake!
Huang, Tao, and Xi Zhang. “Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Infectious Diseases and Others: A Meta-Analysis of 42 Prospective Cohort Studies with 1,752,848 Participants.” North American Journal of Medicine and Science 8.2 (2015).
Kim, Youngyo, and Youjin Je. “Dietary fiber intake and total mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.” American journal of epidemiology 180.6 (2014): 565-573.