Skip to main content
Western Kentucky University

Media Relations

Whole grain fiber linked to longer life

Eating a diet rich in fiber - especially the kind of fiber found in whole grains - reduces the risk of dying at an early age from a range of causes, a new government study suggests.

Fiber's beneficial effects on heart health have been known for decades, so it wasn't surprising that eating a lot of fiber was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart attack and heart disease. But fiber intake also appears to lower the risk of dying from respiratory diseases (such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis) and infectious diseases, the study found.

"The benefits of fiber are broader than what had been anticipated or previously studied," says Frank Hu, M.D., a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, co-author of an editorial accompanying the study. Both were published today on the website of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, also found a link between fiber consumption and a reduced risk of death from cancer, but only in men.

The source of the fiber appears to be critical. Consuming fiber from whole grains was most strongly linked to a lower risk of dying during the study, while fiber from vegetables and beans appeared to have a minimal impact on death risk. The fiber in fruit seemed to offer no protection at all.

"We only see significant effects from whole grains," says the lead author of the study, Yikyung Park, a researcher in the NCI's nutritional epidemiology branch. "But we don't know how this fiber works to improve health."

This unexpected finding suggests that the antioxidants and other nutrients in whole grains- not just the fiber- may be partly responsible for promoting health and long life.

"Is the fiber in whole grains truly different? Or are you getting the benefits from [the other nutrients]?" says David Frid, M.D., a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the study. "We don't know."

Park and her colleagues analyzed data on more than half a million AARP members between the ages of 50 and 71 who answered survey questions about their eating habits as part of a nine-year study on diet and health.

The participants who reported eating the most fiber- about 30 grams a day for men, and 25 grams a day for women- were 22% less likely to die from any cause during the study than those who consumed the least (about 13 grams and 11 grams for men and women, respectively).

Compared with those in the low-fiber group, the men in the high-fiber group were 24% less likely to die from heart disease, 31% less likely to die from respiratory diseases, 56% less likely to die from infectious diseases, and 17% less likely to die from cancer. With the notable exception of cancer, the decreases in risk were similar for the women in the high-fiber group.

Both Park and Hu were surprised that high fiber intake was associated with a lower risk of death from respiratory and infectious diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties of fiber may help explain this finding, but both agree that further research is needed to confirm this link. "Remember, this is just one study," Park says. "We need other studies to replicate what we have found."

Similarly, it's not clear why fiber appears to play a protective role against cancer in men but not in women. One explanation may be that fiber helps lower the risk of cancers that are more common in men, such as head and neck cancer, the study notes.

But for now that's just a theory. As Hu says, "We don't understand the mechanism of how fiber works against disease."

Source: cnn health

Categories
All News  Now Viewing Category: All
School of Journalism & Broadcasting
CEBS
Media Relations
Academic Affairs
Augenstein Alumni Center
Instruments of American Excellence
Transportation
Emergency Preparedness
Police
Department of Music
Department of Theatre & Dance
Library News
Office of Sustainability
Office of International Programs
Office of Research
Ogden News
PCAL
WKU Greeks News
WKU Parent and Family Weekend
Parent's Association
Student Activities and Organizations
Scholarships Student Financial Assistance
Student Government Association News
Van Meter Auditorium
Teaching News
Study Abroad
Student Research Council
Student Employment
WKU Joint Admissions
International Student Office
Human Resources News
Cultural Enhancement Series
CHHS News
The Confucius Institute
Campus Activities Board
GFCB
WellU
The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky
Development and Alumni Relations
Downing Student Union
Health Services
Hardin Planetarium
News from The Center for Gifted Studies
Student Financial Assistance
Downing Museum
Etown & Fort Knox
Facilities
Employee Wellness
Latest Headlines
Featured Articles
WKU hosting FIRST« LEGO« League Qualifying Tournament Nov. 22
Topper Tank Awards $1,500 to Student Entrepreneurs
Dr. Susan Baum Presents at the 2014 Twice-Exceptional Seminar

Forty parents, educators, counselors, and administrators came to Bowling Green November 5 to hear a leading authority on twice-exceptional education at the 2014 Twice-Exceptional (2e) Learners Seminar.

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 
 Last Modified 9/24/14