Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality Reduction?

Dietary fiber has long been hypothesized to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity as well as certain types of cancer.  However, a new study highlights the health-benefits of dietary fiber on reducing mortality itself.

How Dietary Fiber Reduces Mortality

In terms of its definition, though dietary fiber is edible, it is resistant to digestion and absorption by your small intestine.  Instead, these edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates are either completely or partially fermented in your large intestine.

Recently, a study was published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, which included data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women (50-71 years of age) who responded to a questionnaire [1].  The study participants received follow up for a duration of 9 years during which time there were 20,126 deaths in men and 11,330 deaths in women who participated in the study.

The study authors found that dietary fiber intake was significantly inversely associated with death in both men and women.  Comparison of the highest vs. lowest quintiles of fiber intake in men and women showed that those who were in the highest quintile had a 22% lower risk of total death.

What’s more is that the researchers also found that in men, those in the highest quintile of fiber intake had a 24-56% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer as well as infectious and respiratory diseases compared to those in the lowest quintile.

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For women in the highest quintile of fiber intake, they had a 34-59% lower risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases (compared to those in the lowest quintile of intake).  However, there was no association found in women for lowering of cancer risk associated with fiber intake.

From the Study Authors:

“In this large prospective cohort study, we found that dietary fiber intake was significantly inversely associated with the risk of total death and death from CVD, infectious diseases, and respiratory diseases in both men and women. Dietary fiber intake was also related to a lower risk of death from cancer in men but not in women.

Among specific sources of dietary fiber, fiber from grains showed the most consistent  inverse association with risk of total and cause-specific deaths.”

The study authors also speculated that the anti-inflammatory properties particularly of grains could be responsible for their association with a lower risk of death from infectious and respiratory diseases.

How Else Does Dietary Fiber Help:

(1) improve laxation by increasing bulk and reducing transit time of feces through the bowel;
(2) increase excretion of bile acid, estrogen, and fecal procarcinogens and carcinogens by binding to them;
(3) lower serum cholesterol levels;
(4) slow glucose absorption and improve insulin sensitivity;
(5) lower blood pressure;
(6) promote weight loss;
(7) inhibit lipid peroxidation; and
(8) have anti-inflammatory properties.

[box type=”important”]For more information about dietary fiber and how much you should consume, see my:  Dietary Fiber Cheat Sheet.[/box]



  1. Arch Intern Med.  Published online February 14, 2011.

One thought on “Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality Reduction?

  • September 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    At 1st glance I misread the title. Morality is what I though, not mortality. That would have been an interesting read for sure!
    This is just another weapon in fibers arsenal. I get more then I need, when you factor in all the unprocessed foods it eat. The benefits are great. I stay sated longer and I’m regular,like clock work. The tangible effects are great, but what fiber does inside that I don’t see are even better. When people hear fiber, I think many automatically picture Metamucil. Thick blobs of wet saw dust. Not the case as most of us know.
    Interesting how grains may have an anti-inflammatory aspect. Im always looking for ways to defend grains from the non Celiac people who swear grains will kill you


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