Study: Low Fiber Intake Can Lead to Serious Health Conditions

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Had your fiber today? No? Well, you may be setting yourself up for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular inflammation and obesity. That’s because a new study out of the Center for Community Health and Health Equity of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University found a significant association between having a low intake of dietary fiber and these type so conditions.


    Researchers looked at data from 23,168 subjects who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2010. Their analysis also included whether differences in dietary fiber consumption by gender, age, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic categories caused a change in cardiometabolic risk factors.

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    “Our findings indicate that, among a nationally representative sample of nonpregnant US adults in NHANES 1999-2010, the consumption of dietary fiber was consistently below the recommended total adequate intake levels across survey years,” says senior investigator Dr. Cheryl R. Clark, a senior investigator for the Center for Community Health and Health Equity, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. “Our study also confirms persistent differences in dietary fiber intake among socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic subpopulations over time.”


    It turns out that Mexican-Americans consume the highest amounts of dietary fiber. In comparison, non-Hispanic blacks consumed lower amounts of dietary fiber. Furthermore, study participants who had the lowest dietary fiber intake were more likely to have metabolic syndrome, inflammation and obesity.  However, steadily increasing fiber intake lowered the prevalence of these conditions.


    So how much dietary fiber should you try to consume in your diet? Here are the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine: 38g per day for men aged 19-50 years; 30g per day for men 50 and over; 25g for women aged 19-50 years, and 21g per day for women over the age of 50. (The Harvard study found that the average dietary fiber intake across all demographics from 1999-2010 was 16.2 grams.)


    So what does fiber do for you? The George Mateljan Foundation reports that high-fiber foods help support bowel regularity, maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight. Constipation, hemorrhoids, high blood sugar levels and high cholesterol levels can indicate that you’re not consuming enough fiber.


    So how can you increase your dietary fiber? The healthiest foods that are the riches in fiber, according to the George Mateljan Foundation, are: navy beans (76.4 percent of the recommended daily value for one cooked cup); dried peas (65 percent of the recommended daily value for one cooked cup); lentils (62.5 percent of the recommended value for one cooked cup); pinto beans (61.56 percent of the recommended daily value for one cup cooked); black beans (59.84 percent of the recommended daily value for one cooked cup); barley (54.40 percent of the recommended daily value  for one cooked cup); lima beans (52.64 of the recommended daily value for one cooked cup); garbanzo beans (49.84 percent of the daily recommended value for one cooked cup); kidney beans (45.32 percent of the recommended daily value for one cooked cup;) and soybeans (41.28 percent of the recommended daily value for  one cooked cup).


  • However, there are other great sources of fiber available in the grocery produce and spice aisle. The foundation rates six foods as excellent fiber sources; these include turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens eggplant, raspberries and cinnamon.

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    Many more are considered very good sources of fiber when you expand to include the bakery section. These foods include romaine lettuce, celery, Swiss chard, spinach, fennel, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, green peas, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, shiitake, mushrooms, kale, strawberries, pear, cranberries, strawberries, oranges, whole wheat, barley, flax seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and oregano.

     

    Good sources of dietary fiber include apricots, grapefruit, banana, fibs, pineapple, cantaloupe, avocado, plumbs, papaya, kiwifruit, blueberries, apple, sweet potato, summer squash, onions, shiitake mushrooms, yam, leeks, olives, crimini mushrooms, potatoes, corn, beets, rye, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, spelt, miso, sesame seeds, rosemary black pepper, cayenne pepper, dill and turmeric.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:


    George Mateljan Foundation. (nd). Fiber, dietary.


    Grochowski, J. (2013). Study strengthens link between low dietary fiber intake and increased cardiovascular risk. The American Journal of Medicine.

Published On: October 30, 2013