Study Points to Fiber for Decreasing Risk of Death from Infectious and Respiratory Diseases


Photo: Sara Novak

We already knew that a plant-based diet was better for the planet. We also already knew that a plant-based diet high in fiber and roughage decreased your risk of heart disease and helped stave off weight gain. But a new study shed even more light on the importance of a high fiber diet. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and especially whole grains also lowered the risk of death from infectious and respiratory diseases by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and by 34 percent to 59 percent in women.According to the study reported in The State, men and women with the highest amounts of fiber in their diets were less likely to die of a host of ailments including heart disease, infectious disease, respiratory disease, and for men, a host of cancers as well.

"The results from this study suggest that fiber may have broader health benefits than what has been found before," said Frank Hu, who studies nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "The bottom line is that fiber should be a staple in our diet, and we should strive to eat as much fiber as possible."

A closer look at the study:

[M]ore than 388,000 adults, ages 50 to 71, participated in a diet and health study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and AARP. They filled out a questionnaire in 1995 or 1996 about their eating habits. It asked them to estimate how often they ate 124 food items. After nine years, more than 31,000 of the participants had died. National records were used to find out who died and the cause of death.

The study found that those that eat a high fiber diet were less likely to have died prematurely.

I wrote last year about how high protein meat based diets increased your risk of early mortality as documented in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study found that men and women who eat a high protein diet which consisted of a high percentage of meat and cheese, had a higher risk of early death.

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