A High-Fiber Diet Keeps You Healthy & Strong!
What’s the ultimate Saturday morning breakfast food in your house? For many Americans, the ease of cereal has made it a dominating breakfast food. Life Cereal, Wheaties, and Frosted Flakes are famous for their taglines like “Brings out the Tiger in you!” or “Breakfast of Champions.” But new research suggests cereal in a box is probably not the breakfast of champions unless it’s full of “cereal fiber.”
So, what is cereal fiber? Nutrition research defines cereal fiber as “grain fiber” rather than fiber from fruits or vegetables. In other words, cereal from a box is not always the “right” cereal. Cereal fiber can be any whole grain food such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
Having a clear understanding of fiber is important because most Americans do not get enough on a daily basis. Fiber is probably best recognized for its positive gastrointestinal effects, but it has health benefits beyond bowel regularity. Recently, research suggests that fiber can help lower inflammation in the body, a common risk factor in heart disease. But one of the most interesting outcomes of the study was suggestions for which sources of fiber (i.e., cereal, vegetable, and fruit fiber intake) affect inflammation the most.
Using a previously conducted study, investigators gathered data from food questionnaires and participant’s baseline blood samples. All participants were at least 65 or older. From there, they followed participant’s eating habits and health using data from as early as 1989 through 2015. They were looking to see how fiber affected inflammation over the years. Researchers also paid attention to which types of fiber were most associated with lower levels of inflammation.
What were the results? Fruit and vegetable fibers were not associated with lower levels of inflammation (though they do have other health benefits). But guess what was associated with lower levels of inflammation? Cereal fibers! Yes, although we know fruits and vegetables are important for healthy living, so is intaking fiber from cereal or grains.
Researchers also saw that people who ate more cereal fiber were less likely to experience heart disease. But from their analysis, they determined this association was beyond just eating cereal fiber. Still, chronic inflammation in the body is linked to all sorts of health problems other than heart disease: rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, cognitive decline, etc.
What’s the bottom line? Getting a regular serving of fiber and making sure that a portion of that fiber is cereal fiber, especially for those 65 and older, could have significant health benefits.