If you’re going to make any changes to your diet at all, increasing your fibre is the smartest move you can make.
There are two forms of fibre – soluble and non-soluble. Soluble fiber comes in the form of fruits and vegetables and is called soluble because of its high water content. It is more easy to digest and travels through the system with ease. Non-soluble fiber like bran and psyllium actually requires a lot of water to help it move through the system. A lot of people make the mistake of eating more bran but not enough water and suffer the consequences – it can lead to cramps and digestive upsets.
A new study out of Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine that was presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions this year shows that a high-fiber diet can lead to healthier hearts and an improved quality of life.
“It’s long been known that high-fiber diets can help people lose weight, lower cholesterol and improve hypertension,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., corresponding author of the study and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The results of this study make a lot of sense because weight, cholesterol and hypertension are major determinants of your long-term risk for cardiovascular disease.”
According to the American Heart Association, a minimum of 25 grams of fiber a day is required to make any significant changes in health. The source of this fiber should come from natural sources and not processed foods or supplements designed to increase fiber intake.
“A processed food may be high in fiber, but it also tends to be pretty high in sodium and likely higher in calories than an apple, for example, which provides the same amount of fiber,” Lloyd-Jones said.
The study examined data from 11,000 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A mathematical formula to determine an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease was used with these analytical factors from the survey:
- Blood pressure
- Total Cholesterol
- Smoking status
- History of diabetes
The results of these calculations showed favorably for adults aged 29 to 59, with older adults aged 60 to 79 years showing little effect. It was concluded that fiber needs a certain amount of time to take effect and that is why the results show favorably among a younger age group.
“The results are pretty amazing. Younger (20 to 39 years) and middle-aged (40 to 59 years) adults with the highest fiber intake, compared to those with the lowest fiber intake, showed a statistically significant lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. The study suggests that starting a high-fiber diet now may help improve your long-term risk.”
Northwestern University. “Load up on fiber now, avoid heart disease later.” ScienceDaily 23 March 2011. 24 March 2011 <http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/03/110322172225.htm>.