A study at the University of Otago in New Zealand found a direct link between higher fibre intake and a reduction in the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer.
Systematic studies conducted over nearly 40 years have shown that patients with a fiber-rich diet, compared to those who consumed the least fiber, had a risk of death and diseases related to coronary artery disease, heart attack, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer, down by as much as 15-30%. This research will be used by the World Health Organization to issue new recommendations on fiber intake.
25 grams fiber
Study author Dr Andrew Reynolds believes the results point to the need to incorporate more fibre into the diet. "Our study showed that we should consume at least 25 to 29 grams of fiber per day, but most of us consume less than 20 grams," explains dr Reynolds. Study co-author Professor Jim Mann says the findings are groundbreaking. He said: "This research is important because there are still some ambiguities in public opinion about how to choose our meals and what impact our choices have on the risk of certain diseases. We all knew fibre had a beneficial effect on our health, but now we have hard evidence for it.”
The analysis included 58 clinical trials and 185 studies from around the world that look at the impact of fiber, wholesome foods and the glycemic index. Professor Mann believes the study is unique in that it analysed a range of indicators and disease patterns. Previous studies have taken into account only one factor and a small number of diseases. The study found that people who increased the amount of fiber in their diet had lower body weight and cholesterol levels. "It turned out that a high-nutrient diet has a huge impact on the body's protection against heart disease, diabetes and cancer” – explains Professor Mann.