Millions run the risk of dying prematurely because they do not eat enough fiber, warns big study

Millions of people run the risk of dying prematurely because they do not eat enough fiber, according to a large study.

A study commissioned by the World Health Organization showed that people who get a lot of fiber in their diet reduce their risk of early mortality to one third.

They also reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, type two diabetes or colon cancer by up to a quarter.

Yet the vast majority of adults in Britain – about 91 percent – eat less than the recommended daily allowance. Comparable figures exist in the US.

The findings are a stroke for trendy low-carbohydrate diets, which have increased enormously in popularity in recent years and have also reduced the intake of fiber.

Fiber – also called & # 39; roughage & # 39; – is essential for digestion and helps people stay full for longer.

It is found in high levels in fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as bread and pasta made with wholegrain and whole grain.

A study commissioned by the World Health Organization showed that people who consume a lot of fiber – found in wholemeal bread – reduce their risk of early mortality to a third in their diet.

But the emergence of processed food – which often removes a lot of fiber in raw ingredients – has led to people having received too few of these ingredients.

Researcher Prof. John Cummings, from the University of Dundee, said the new review – published in the Lancet medical journal – will have a major impact.

& # 39; This is a defining moment in the fiber story, & # 39; he said.

The work we have done means that we have enough evidence from population studies, human experimental work and the biochemistry and physiological fiber to be sure of the obvious health benefits.

Fiber has matured as a unique and essential nutrient. & # 39;

His team combined the results of more than 230 previous studies, in which 215,000 people participated.

They found that people who ate more than 30 g per day of fiber – the recommended amount by Public Health England – were 24 per cent less likely to die prematurely because of the cause than people who ate 8g per day.

And for those who ate more than 35 g, the risk decreased by more than a third.

To ensure that people get enough fiber, potatoes, pasta, bread and other starchy carbohydrates – traditional foods that go out of fashion – must be the main components of a healthy diet, health officials say.

To eat 30 g of fiber, people must eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, as well as the equivalent of two wholegrain cereal biscuits, two thick slices of wholemeal bread and a large coat of potato with the peel on it.

But critically, people have to choose wholegrain options to get the most nutrition out of the carbohydrates they eat.


The vast majority of packaged food in the UK comes with nutritional information printed on the label.

The most important things to look for are fat, saturated fat, salt (which can be called sodium), fiber and sugar – which is often listed as "sugars & # 39; under carbohydrates.

In general, foods with a higher fiber value and lower saturated fat, salt and sugar are healthier.

Some supermarkets also label nutritional value with a traffic light system, with more green pointing to healthier food.

The NHS advice on what is high or low is as follows:

Total fat

High: more than 17.5 g of fat per 100 g

Low: 3 g fat or less per 100 g

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of adults for adults is approximately 70 g.

Saturated fat

High: more than 5 g of saturated fat per 100 g

Low: 1.5 g saturated fat or less per 100 g

The ADH of saturated fats for adults is about 20 g.

Sugars (also known as sugars)

High: more than 22.5 g total sugars per 100 g

Low: 5 g total sugars or less per 100 g

The ADH of sugars for adults is about 90 g.

Salt (also known as sodium)

High: more than 1.5 g of salt per 100 g (or 0.6 g of sodium)

Low: 0.3 g salt or less per 100 g (or 0.1 g sodium)

The RDA of an adult of salt is 6 g or less.

Source: NHS Choices

Professor Jim Mann, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, who also worked on the new paper, said: "Our findings provide convincing evidence for dietary guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fiber and replacing refined grains through whole grains.

Ve Fibrous, full of food that requires chewing and retains much of their structure in the intestinal tract, increases satiety and helps weight control and can favorably affect lipid [cholesterol] and glucose levels. & # 39;

His team ate every 8g of dietary fiber per day, the deaths fell by 5 to 27 percent.

They said that consuming 25 g to 29 g every day was enough, but more than 30 g would provide better protection. Protection against stroke and breast cancer also increased.

Experts welcomed the findings. Professor Kevin Whelan of King & # 39; s College London, said: "The challenge is that many people in the UK do not eat this amount of fiber.

The main sources of fiber in the British diet are cereals – bread, pasta, rice, cereals – and fruit and vegetables.

People should consider ways to increase fiber intake by changing food preparation methods – for example. Do not peel potatoes – switch to whole grains and replace sugar snacks with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. & # 39;

Dr Ian Johnson of the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich said: "The huge amount of evidence, along with the consistency of results from both observational studies and randomized controlled trials, shows that we can now rely on a high fiber consumption from all sources, and in particular from whole grain grains, offer significant protection against the common diseases of later life that are now placing considerable strain on the NHS.

It is also worrying that otherwise healthy consumers who try to follow popular low-carbohydrate diets will find it very difficult to achieve a healthy level of fiber intake. & # 39;

Professor Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: "I think this is an important article that points better than before to the potential health value of a higher intake of dietary fiber.

Millions in Britain run the risk of dying prematurely because they do not eat enough fiber (stock)

Millions in Britain run the risk of dying prematurely because they do not eat enough fiber (stock)

• However, as with the vast majority of nutritional data, most of the evidence comes from observational studies and caution should be taken with the conclusions reached in view of the inevitable prejudices they contain.

It should be noted that this paper also includes important risk factor data from studies and weight reductions and other known causal risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. that are seen with high fiber (whole wheat) diets, although modestly support the overall findings linking more fiber in the diet to less heart disease, diabetes, cancer and possibly a longer lifespan.

So I tend to believe that the overall findings are guiding and thus agree with the conclusions of the authors when they write that & # 39; recommendations to increase fiber consumption and replace refined grains with whole grains are expected to benefit human health. & # 39;

Prof. dr. Nita Forouhi, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, added: & # 39; We must seriously consider this study, based on a robust analysis and additional findings from both observational and randomized research.

This study effectively confirms that the British government's advice to consume 30 grams of fiber a day is pretty good.

It is the job of individuals themselves and also of public institutions to make this happen, because the average fiber intake at population level in the UK is still scarce.

This study did not specifically examine the total carbohydrate intake, but the findings do imply that, although it is becoming increasingly popular throughout the community, nutritional regimes that recommend a low-carbohydrate diet should take into account the alternative costs. of missing fiber from whole grains.

& # 39; This research confirms that fiber and whole-grain shots are clearly important for long-term health.

She added: & # 39; Ultimately, this research provides a solid foundation that, when it comes to carbohydrates, quality is of great importance in addition to the debate on quantity.

Whole grain products usually contain a lot of fiber and this research provides further evidence to emphasize its importance and supports a shift in our diet from processed and refined food in the food supply chain to more high-fiber wholemeal feed. & # 39;