More fiber in diet could be a life-saver

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 18, 2011

Increasing the amount of fiber in one’s diet could have astronomical health benefits, according to a study released this week.

Data collected from the National Institutes of Health AARP Diet and Health Study shows a strong association between high dietary fiber intake and a lowered risk of death from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases.

According to the study, most Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets.

The average American eats only about 15 grams of fiber each day, much less than the current daily recommendation of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, or 14 grams per 1,000 calories.

The agency also reports that healthy fiber derived from whole grains may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and assist in weight loss, and local dietician John Newsom, who heads Andalusia Regional Hospital’s food and nutrition services, agrees.

“Dietary fiber from whole foods and supplements is beneficial to health,” he said. “In fact, fiber can be helpful to those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, the obese and even those with gastrointestinal problems.”

Newsom recommends, based on findings from the American Dietetic Association, that those with diabetes eat 30 to 50 grams of dietary fiber per day to help with diabetes management.

Newsom also said that research shows that high-fiber diets may be associated with lower blood pressure.

“Based on current data, dietary fiber intake from whole foods or supplements may lower blood pressure, improve serum lipids and reduce indicators of inflammation,” he said. “Benefits may occur with intakes of 12 grams to 33 grams per day from whole foods or up to 42.5 grams of fiber per day from supplements.”

Newsom said that a high-fiber diet can help with overweight and obesity issues.

Consuming high amount of dietary fiber can help with lower body mass indexes and less weight gain.

“The majority of studies providing up to 20 grams of fiber per day produced weight-loss in obese and overweight individuals,” he said. “We know that 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day is very beneficial to reduce risk of colon cancer to aide with glycemic control for diabetics and aides in weight loss for those trying to lose weight.”