APR 12, 2022 11:30 AM PDT

Fiber Could Reduce Inflammation. But What Kind of Fiber is Best?

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. As a carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the body, it actually has many helpful uses. Specifically, fiber can help with digestive health, including relieving constipation and preventing gut infections. Other types of fiber help remove excess cholesterol from the body and help keep blood sugar in check. Fiber, however, is only found in plant-based foods (so, fruits, vegetables, and grains). That’s why it’s often recommended to eat several servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains each day. 

Citing limited data on the subject, researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health recently conducted a study to understand how or if dietary fiber could reduce inflammation in older adults and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Study results are published in JAMA Network Open. 

Researchers pulled over 4,000 participants from the Cardiovascular Healthy Study, an NIH-led study that has been exploring the various risk factors behind cardiovascular disease. The study is ongoing, but Columbia researchers pulled participants who were enrolled from 1989 to 1990. Participants received questionnaires about the foods they ate, and how frequently. Researchers also followed up with participants to gauge whether any types of cardiovascular disease developed and collected blood samples to test for signs of inflammation.

Overall, researchers concluded that dietary fiber could help decrease inflammation by targeting overall gut health, making positive changes to metabolic profiles, and offering an overall positive change to an individual’s diet. 

Among the findings, however, was an interesting piece of data: not all dietary fiber was beneficial for reducing inflammation. Specifically, researchers found that fiber found in foods like cereals or whole grains was far more beneficial for inflammation than fiber found in fruits and vegetables. What remains unclear, however, was why these different types of fiber affected inflammation differently. Researchers say this question requires more research.  

So, to, does the relationship between cereal fiber, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. While researchers noted that cereal fiber played a big role, the data suggests that inflammation may only be part of the answer when it comes to reduced cardiovascular risk due to fiber intake. Essentially, the connection between the three needs to be explored in more detail.

Sources: Science Daily; JAMA Network Open; NIH

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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