If you want to find the key to a long and healthy life, this study on fiber could be good news for you. The study, published in The American Journal of Epidemiology and organized by the Shanghai Cancer Institute, collected data from 17 earlier studies in Europe and the U.S. Altogether they studied the lifestyle of almost one million people.
The study subjects were divided into five groups, depending upon how much fiber they ate. The statistics showed that those with the highest intake of fiber were 16% less likely to die than the group that ate the least amount. More detailed analysis showed that for every 10 grams of extra fiber a person consumed, they saw a 10% reduction in the risk of death from any cause.
It seems that high fiber intake equated to lower death risk, and it’s never too late to change your habits!
How Much Fiber Do We Need?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends around 25 grams of daily fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber for men. These figures are calculated at the rate of 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Unfortunately, most Americans manage less than half of those quantities.
If you're wondering how you measure up fiber-wise, here are some sources of fiber per portion eaten. See how well you are doing so far today…
Fiber One Bran Cereal ½ cup 14 grams fiber
Fiber One Chewy Bars 1 bar 9 g
Beans (black, garbanzo,navy) 1 cup 12-19 g
Green beans 1 cup 17 g
Blueberries 1 cup 4 g
Blackberries 1 cup 8 g
Popcorn 3 cups 4 g
Quinoa 1 cup 5 g
Brown Rice 1 cup 4 g
Bread (whole-wheat) 1 slice 2 g
Pasta (whole-wheat) 1 cup 6 g
Peas, frozen 1 cup 14 g
Spinach 1 cup 4 g
Peanuts 1 ounce 2g
Broccoli 1 cup 5 g
Baked Potato 1 medium 4 g
Banana 1 fruit 3 g
So, how did you do? Not as well as you hoped, probably! And these are high fiber choices; most other foods have much lower fiber content. You can see that having a fiber-rich breakfast and those 5-a-day fruit and vegetables are essential to get sufficient fiber intake on a daily basis.
Benefits of High Fiber Diet
As well as reducing constipation, fiber is known to help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and is thought to reduce inflammation. So if you’re looking for more things to add to your list of high blood pressure diet foods, make sure to include plenty of foods that are high in fiber. Fiber also helps with weight loss as it makes you feel full faster, and slows the digestive process so you also feel full longer. With 16% less risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer or any other cause, it's worth improving your fiber intake to possibly add years to your life.
One word of warning: if you do switch to a high fiber diet, make the process is gradual and include fiber at every meal, not just in one large dose of breakfast cereal. Your body and digestive system need time to adjust and flatulence may be a problem initially. You also need to drink extra water to keep that fiber moving through the digestive tract. However, you will soon notice an improvement in energy levels, blood sugar, cholesterol, hypertension, sleep patterns, lower inflammation and improved digestion, so it’s worth pursuing.