Study finds benefits of including fibre in your diet daily.
Including a minimum amount of 25g of fibre each day could help decrease the effect of a number of harmful health conditions, according to researchers.
Fibre can be found in fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, breads and pasta that use whole-grains, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, in addition to nuts and seeds.
And the results of a recently published study found a 15–30% decrease in heart-related deaths, coronary heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer when comparing the health of people who ate a lot of fibre, with those who did not.
The study published in The Lancet was carried out by researchers at the University of Otago, in New Zealand and the University of Dundee and based on 135 million person-years of health records from 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials with 4,635 adult participants were included in the analysis.
While eating a minimum of 25g of fibre per day is recommended, researchers added that there were additional health benefits for eating more than 30g (1oz) of fibre daily.
The study found people eating more fibre showed signs of significantly lower bodyweight, blood pressure, and cholesterol when compared with people who had lower intakes of fibre in their diet.
Researchers added that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater benefit to protect against cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal and breast cancer.
Researchers concluded: “Implementation of recommendations to increase dietary fibre intake and to replace refined grains with whole grains is expected to benefit human health. A major strength of the study was the ability to examine key indicators of carbohydrate quality in relation to a range of non-communicable disease outcomes from cohort studies and randomised trials in a single study. Our findings are limited to risk reduction in the population at large rather than those with chronic disease.”
High fibre diets and improvements in glycaemic control
By Pam Dyson, Research Dietitian at Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), Churchill Hospital, Oxford and author of the DRWF leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes:
“The results from this report show that higher intakes of wholegrains and dietary fibre are associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing many non-communicable diseases (NCD), including type 2 diabetes.
“It is important to remember that much of this evidence is derived from prospective cohort studies, where free-living people are observed over time and the food intake of those who develop a condition (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, cancer) is compared with those who remain free from this condition.
“This is not the same as a randomised controlled trial, the so-called gold standard assessment, where people are asked to eat a certain food or diet and then monitored to see if a condition develops. However, in this particular report, results from both types of studies are used and the fact they largely agree with one another suggests that we can have confidence in the findings.
“It is important to remember that these studies are looking at prevention of a wide variety of NCD and not treatment, so it is challenging to extrapolate these results to the management of diabetes. It does appear that eating more fibre reduces the risk of heart disease, and as people with diabetes have an increased risk, eating more fibre may be of benefit.
“The recommendation is to aim for at least 25g per day, and 30g if possible. The latest advice from Public Health England is to aim for 30g per day, much higher than the current intake of 19g per day.”
Practical ways to achieve the recommended 25g of fibre in your daily diet:
- Include a wholegrain cereal at breakfast. Bran-based cereals provide between 5 to 10g fibre per portion and wholegrain cereals about 5g per portion
- Eat more fruit and vegetables. A portion of fruit (an apple, pear or orange for example) provides about 3g fibre. A portion of green vegetables provides about 2g fibre and peas and pulses and legumes (e.g. kidney beans, lentils, chick peas) about 5g fibre
- Choose wholegrain or wholemeal bread. One slice provides 2-3g fibre
- Choose wholegrain or brown rice and wholegrain pasta. One portion of wholegrain rice provides 3-4g fibre and a portion of wholegrain pasta 5-6g fibre
- If you have snacks, choose fruit, raw vegetables, plain nuts and wholegrain crackers or rice cakes
“If you have a bran-based cereal for breakfast (5-10g), a sandwich with wholemeal bread for lunch (6g), some wholegrain pasta for your main meal (6g) and have three portions of vegetables (6g) and two portions of fruit (6g) during the day you will achieve the recommended intake of fibre.
"Of course, most of these foods contain carbohydrate, and people with diabetes also have to consider the effects these foods will have on their blood glucose levels, although there is some evidence that high fibre diets are associated with improvements in glycaemic control.”