New study recommends a daily maximum for dietary fiber intake

At 6 grams each pears have some of the highest fiber content in the fruit family. Eat them raw in salads or poached in wine or pomegranate juice for dessert

High fibre diets make for healthier lives

"Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains". This was all reported in the Lancet Medical Journal. These high fiber consumers also had "significantly" lower body weight, blood pressure and total cholesterol, the authors found. Furthermore, whole grain breads or nuts like almonds, pistachios or pumpkin and sunflower seeds too have a high-fibre content in them. Consuming a lot of dietary fiber protects us from all diseases, and therefore significantly extends life expectancy, according to a very big synthesis of Lancet studies on the subject.

People who eat extra fibre and whole grains are more likely to avoid certain diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and diabetes compared to people who eat lesser amounts, a review of all the available evidence has concluded.

Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced the chance of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer 16-24 per cent, depending on the study.

Most people worldwide consume less than 20 grammes of dietary fibre per day, researchers said.

Consuming 25 grammes to 29 grammes each day was adequate but the data suggest that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater protection, they said.

According to the study, most people worldwide now consume less than 20g of dietary fibre a day.

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For every eight grammes increase of dietary fibre eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5-27 per cent, researchers said.

The study notes that the relationships between high fiber/whole grain consumption and reduced noncommunicable diseases could be causal.

Protection against stroke and breast cancer also increased. However, links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are less clear. Ice cream, for example, has a low glycemic index but is high in sugar.

The researchers only included studies with healthy participants, so the findings can not be applied to people with existing chronic diseases.

So, how does one increase fiber in the diet? This cholesterol-lowering type of fibre is found in fruits, vegetables and grains such as oats and barley.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, wrote in an email that "living a healthy lifestyle is an obvious route to improving our health outcomes, and eating a balanced diet, as well as taking regular exercise, getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking, is a key part of this".

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