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A diet higher in fiber, particularly grains, may lead to a longer life

February 14, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
  • Eating more fiber from whole grains may reduce the risk of death in men and women, a study finds
Eating more fiber from whole grains may reduce the risk of death in men and… (Geraldine Wilkins / Los…)

We all know we should eat more fiber. Here's some incentive: Eating more of it could help you live longer, but the kind of fiber you eat may be key.

The findings came via a study released online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers used data from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health study that asked people age 50 to 71 what they ate for the last year and how often they ate it. Researchers followed the participants for an average nine years, in which time 20,126 men died and 11,330 women died.

Those who consumed diets higher in fiber had a lower risk of death. The 20% of men and women who ate the most fiber (29.4 grams per day for men and 25.8 grams for women) had a 22% lower risk of dying compared with those who ate the least amount (12.6 grams per day for men and 10.8 for women).

Diets high in fiber were linked with a lower risk of death from all causes, as well as death from cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and respiratory diseases in men and women. Eating fiber was associated with a lower death risk from cancer for men, but the same was not seen in women.

When researchers looked at the effects of the various types of fiber they were eating, they found that consuming grains was most associated with lower risk of all types of death, plus death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory disease for men and women.

One theory for the link may be that dietary fiber may have anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation is often associated with infectious and respiratory diseases.

"A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits," the authors wrote.

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