From Dr. Mercola:
I’ve been interested in the health benefits of fiber for a long time—so much so, my classmates nicknamed me “Dr. Fiber” when I was in medical school in the ’70s. This was mostly stimulated by reviewing studies by Dr. Denis Brukitt, who has a lymphoma named after him. He passed away about 20 years ago.
I’ve since come to appreciate that the type of fiber in your diet, as well as your gut health, play a major role in harnessing fiber’s health potential while avoiding its potential pitfalls.
High-Fiber Diet Reduces All-Cause Mortality
Mounting research suggests that a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases. This includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. As discussed in the featured video, research also shows it can help heart patients live longer.
Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation—all of which can influence your mortality risk.
One recent meta-analysis1 evaluating the impact of a high-fiber diet on mortality pooled data from 17 different studies tracking nearly 1 million Europeans and Americans. As reported by Scientific American:2
“Yang’s team divided participants into five groups based on their daily fiber intake. Those in the top fifth, who ate the greatest amount of fiber daily, were 16 percent less likely to die than those in the bottom fifth, who consumed the least amount of fiber.
In addition, eight studies showed a 10 percent drop in risk for any cause of death with each 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake.”
Another recent study3,4 produced similar results. Here, every 10-gram increase of fiber intake was associated with a 15-percent lower risk of mortality, and those who ate the most fiber had a 25-percent reduced risk of dying from any cause within the next nine years, compared to those whose fiber intake was lacking.
Research5 published in 2013 also found that for every seven grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by seven percent. This equates to increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables by about two additional portions per day.
Why Cereal Grains May Be Counterproductive
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends getting 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. A more general recommendation is to make sure you get 20-30 grams of fiber per day. I believe about 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is ideal.
Unfortunately, most people get only half that, or less—despite the fact that most people eat diets high in grains. Part of the problem is that your best source of dietary fiber comes from vegetables and most people simply aren’t eating enough veggies…
The featured article6 cites a researcher who suggests that cereal grains may offer “the best risk reductions for colorectal and cardiovascular disease.” I disagree with recommendations to boost your consumption of cereal grains, because this completely ignores the issue of glyphosate contamination in many modern grains.
For example, about 15 years ago, farmers began dousing non-organic wheat with glyphosate just before harvest—a process known as desiccation—which increases yield and kills rye grass.
As a result, most of the non-organic wheat supply is now heavily contaminated with glyphosate, which has been linked to celiac disease and other gut dysfunction. Needless to say, this is the exact converse of what you’re trying to achieve by adding fiber to your diet… Cereal grains may have been a good source of fiber in the past, but not anymore.
Moreover, a high-grain diet tends to promote insulin and leptin resistance, and that, too, is counterproductive as it actually promotes many of the chronic diseases that healthy fiber can help reduce, most notably type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.