Since the days of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the father of Sugar Frosted Flakes, there has been a conversation raging about the efficacy of alternative medicine as opposed to allopathic medicine. I hear it every day as customers ask me if their supplements are covered by their health insurance policies, and sadly, the answer is a resounding NO.
There are very few health claims that have been legally approved to be made about foods and dietary supplements. One of the handful of claims that the FDA does permit is the health benefits of fiber. Diets high in fiber may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and the mounting scientific evidence is too significant for the FDA to refute. Fiber has also been shown to lower the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases. With all of the existing evidence, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decided to take it a step further, and funded a study to determine if fiber actually reduces the risk of mortality from specific diseases.
In an extremely large clinical study, the NIH analyzed the diets of hundreds of thousands of adults over age 50. They followed them for approximately nine years and found that those who were in the top 20% for fiber consumption had a 22% reduced risk of death from all causes as compared to those who consumed the least amount of fiber in their diets. They found that men had a 24% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease with the highest fiber intakes, and women had a 34% reduced risk of death as compared to those with the lowest intake. There was an even higher reduction in risk of dying from infectious disease with a high fiber diet.
Fiber certainly has an abundance of health benefits in its own right, but beyond that, the foods that are high in fiber tend to also be packed with nutrients. Whole grains, legumes, and most fruits and vegetables top the list of high fiber foods. These contribute antioxidants and other health-benefiting nutrients that are absent in processed, packaged, low-fiber foods. Fiber also leads to satiation and helps maintain a healthy weight, which adds to longevity.
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