Heart disease is a critical health issue. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Although commonly mistaken as a disease affecting mostly men and the elderly, heart disease is also a serious health risk for women of all ages.
The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable through positive lifestyle changes. Research shows that a diet rich in fiber reduces the incidence of risk factors for heart disease.
What is Dietary-Fiber?
Dietary-Fibre it describes the part of plant foods that your body can’t digest. Dietary-Fibre is present in all plants that are eaten for food, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
It is probably best known for its ability to prevent and relieve constipation. What many people don’t realize is that fiber also provides other health benefits such as helping maintain a healthy heart.
Dietary-Fibre can be divided into two types:
These types have different effects on glucose metabolism—which is the rate at which your body processes sugar.
Soluble-Fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel in the intestines. The beneficial effects of them are reduced glucose and insulin responses because it slows the effect of carbohydrate absorption and digestion.
Insoluble-Fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and increases the movement of material through your digestive tract allowing less time for carbohydrates to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, thus relieving insulin demand.
How much per day?
The average daily intake is about 5 to 14 grams per day. However, recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine are that adults should consume 21 – 38 grams per day, depending on age and gender.
19 – 30 Age 38 grams/day
19 – 30 Age 25 grams/day
High intake of Dietary-Fibre has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease in a number of large studies that followed people for many years. These early nutrition research findings have been borne out by countless subsequent studies.
One recent study found that every additional 10 grams consumed on a daily basis cuts the risk of coronary heart disease death by 27 percent.
In a Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers found that a high total Dietary-Fibre intake was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to a low intake. A related Harvard study of female nurses produced quite similar findings.
Another study of over 31,000 California Seventh-day Adventists found a 44 percent reduced risk of nonfatal coronary heart disease and an b>11 percent reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease for those who consumed more of Fibre in their diets. One minor change in their diets provided a protective effect that could save their lives.Another strong predictor of heart disease is abnormal blood cholesterol levels.
Soluble-Fibre reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines by binding with bile (which contains cholesterol) and dietary cholesterol so that the body excretes it.
While atherosclerotic heart disease (the process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of arteries from fats and cholesterol deposits on their inner lining) is the most prevalent cause of death, it is perhaps the most modifiable one.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Diabetes leads to heart disease and stroke.
It’s characterized by sustained high blood sugar levels. It tends to develop when the body can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin to lower blood sugar to normal levels or cannot properly use the insulin that it does produce.
Research has shown that consuming Fiber can help prevent this form of diabetes. Dietary-Fibre slows the absorption of food so that blood sugar does not rise as rapidly, while also reducing insulin secretion.
This was demonstrated in a study published in 2004 in which a high intake led to improved glycemic control, along with reduction of blood pressure and serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
A German clinical trial reported that eating a Fiber-rich diet for only three days improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese women by 8 percent. If a diet intervention this small can have that great of an impact, you can imagine what years of following a high-Fibre diet would do. The good news for those with diabetes is that increasing your Fibre now can also prevent long-term complications from diabetes.
Soluble-Fibre has been found to produce significant reductions in blood sugar. In clinical intervention trials ranging from two to 17 weeks, was shown to decrease insulin requirements in people with type 2 diabetes.
If you''ve ever had to inject yourself with insulin, you can appreciate how much easier and less painful it would be to increase your Fibre-intake to avoid the need for insulin injections.
One of the most alarming health concerns of the last decade is explosive growth in the number of people—especially younger people—who are overweight or obese.
A 1997 study investigated the effects of one week of supplementation with guar gum (a water-soluble-fiber), on hunger and satiety, as well as calorie intake, in obese test subjects.
Adding Fibre to the diet decreased food intake, and subjects on a reduced-calorie diet reported diminished hunger after supplementing with fiber. It may assist in weight-management programs by promoting a feeling of fullness, decreasing hunger, and promoting adherence to a reduced-calorie diet.
Another study confirmed these effects. When overweight individuals added 14 grams of Fibre daily to their otherwise unrestricted diet, they consumed 10 percent fewer calories. This led to an average of 4.2 pounds of weight loss in just under four months.
These factors are especially important in treating obesity in children, according to the Department of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, which notes that modern nutritional research indicates an important role for fiber, in regulating body weight.
Myth or Fact?
All forms of dietary-Fibre are the same
Myth. It can be classified into two types:
soluble-Fibre (dissolves in water and may form a gel)
and insoluble-Fibre (does not dissolve in water).
Soluble - can help to lower cholesterol and regulate glucose levels as well as regularity.
Insoluble-Fibre adds bulk to the stool and contributes to bowel regularity.
Myth. Dietary-Fibre is derived from plant products.
A high-fiber diet promotes weight loss.
Fact. Dietary-Fibre enhances satiety (feeling full while eating) and may prevent over-eating. High-fiber diets tend to have more volume and less calories than other types of diets. You only need dietary-fiber if you suffer from constipation.
Myth. In addition to promoting regularity, Fibre lowers the risk of developing many life-threatening disease and conditions, such as heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.
Fact. Some studies show that a high-fiber diet will prevent colon cancer.