Eat more dietary fibre to lower risk of non-communicable diseases

Ebony Scott
January 13, 2019

"This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases", said Professor Jim Mann, who co-led the research.

The study, which will make for hard reading for food manufacturers making low-carb products, said that fibre in "good" carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, cereal, pasta and oats has a protective effect.

The study was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to help inform the development of new recommendations for optimal daily fibre intake when it comes to providing protection against non-communicable diseases.

According to the study, 15 per cent to 30 per cent reduced risk of death and chronic diseases in people who included the most fibre in their diets as compared to those with the lowest intake.

When it came to whole grains, the researchers found that for every 15g increase consumed per day, there was a 2-19% decrease in the incidence and total deaths from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.

But the data, published in a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in The Lancet medical journal, also suggested higher dietary fibre intakes could give even greater protection.

According to the study, most people worldwide now consume less than 20g of dietary fibre a day.

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A diet rich in fibre found in bread, pasta, wholegrain cereals and potatoes could cut the risk of early death by up to a third, a study suggests.

Whole grains were also associated with a reduction in body weight, with the researchers explaining that whole grains are high in dietary fibre, which could explain their beneficial effects.

Generally, on average, most people get only about 20 grams of fiber a day. Even worse, the average adult in the USA consumes only 15 grams of fibre per day.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mann said that the findings considerably challenge many popular diets that reject carbohydrates due to their correlation with sugar. These studies involved initially healthy participants, so the findings can not be applied to those with existing chronic diseases.

"The health benefits of fibre are supported by over 100 years of research into its chemistry, physical properties, physiology and effects on metabolism". Dietary fiber includes plant-based carbohydrates like beans, whole-grain cereal, and seeds.

Fiber content was shown to be a better indicator of a carbohydrate food's ability to prevent disease than glycemic index, the measure of the degree to which blood glucose goes up after a particular food is eaten. Rich sources of dietary fibre include whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruit.

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