A meta-analysis of the health benefits of a high fibre diet has shown once again that a diet rich in grains, vegetables and fruit improves health and reduces risk of death from chronic illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.
A team of researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand and led by Dr. Andrew Reynolds of the Department of Medicine, were surprised to see the risk of death from a range of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer reduce by 16 – 24% when people consumed more fibre in their diet (1). And the more the better, so it seems, as is typical in the natural Mediterranean Diet (or Rainbow Diet).
The meta-analysis was commissioned by the World Health Organisation and the results of a whopping 185 studies over the last 4 decades were analysed together with 58 clinical trials involving more than 4600 participants.
The findings included reports showing that most people worldwide eat less than 20g of fibre daily, 15g for Americans. The researchers found that those who routinely consume greater amounts of fibre than the 25-29g of fibre per day, commonly thought to be adequate, were found to have greater protection against premature
death. This translates to each additional 15g of extra whole grain per day reducing one’s risk of an early death from heart disease by 2 – 19%.
No adverse effects were found from eating more dietary fibre and the study author concluding that it is never too late to start embracing the benefits of eating more fibre. Combined of course with moderate exercise, good hydration and calorie control to see the best results.
Some examples of fibre content in foods: a slice of wholewheat bread has 2g of fibre; a cup of boiled broccoli has 5g, a medium orange has 3g and a cup of cooked black beans has 15g.