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High-Fiber Diets Benefit Long-Term Health

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Individuals who follow a high-fiber diet may significantly reduce their risk of dying from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases by as much as 22 percent, according to a new study published online Feb. 14 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute 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 two-sided 95 %confidence intervals (CIs).

During a 9-year follow-up, they identified 20,126 deaths in men and 11,330 deaths in women. 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). Dietary fiber intake also lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases by 24% to 56% in men and by 34% to 59% in women. Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and cancer death was observed in men but not in women. The protective effect came mainly from cereal fiber in grains, not other sources of fiber such as fruits and vegetables.

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