JAMA Logo Dietary fiber is known to assist bowel movements, decrease blood cholesterol levels, enhance blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and reduce inflammation. Well, it now appears that this edible part of plants resisting digestion is more beneficial in the health terrain. A groundbreaking study suggests that dietary fiber lowers risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases. Fiber intake may also reduce the threat of death from any cause for over a nine-year period.

In order to conduct the study, data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study was evaluated. A food frequency questionnaire was completed at the beginning of the study in 1995 and 1996. Experts ascertained that cause of death by linking study records to national registries. Fiber consumption among men ranged from 13 to 29 grams per day and in women from 11 to 26 grams a day. After nine years of the follow-up, on an average scientists registered death of 20,126 men and 11,330 women.

Authors comment, “The findings remained robust when we corrected for dietary intake measurement error using calibration study data; in fact, the association was even stronger with measurement error correction. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend choosing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains frequently and consuming 14 grams per 1,000 calories of dietary fiber. A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits.”

Yikyung Park, Sc.D., of the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and colleagues associated fiber intake with a highly diminished threat of total death in both men and women. Men consuming 29.4 grams and women eating 25.8 grams of fiber per day apparently were 22 percent less likely to die than men consuming 12.6 grams and women having 10.8 grams each day. The risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was supposedly decreased by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and 34 percent to 59 percent among women with high fiber intakes. It was mentioned that dietary fiber from grains, but not from other sources like fruits, declines the risk of total, cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory disease deaths in men as well as women.

The study appears online and will be published in the June 14 print issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.