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Eating More Fiber May Help Improve Lung Function

Widespread research has shown that a diet rich in fiber may protect against diabetes and heart disease. Now a new study suggests that a fiber-rich diet may help improve lung function.

The researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which included 1,921 people between the ages of 40 and 79. This study is unique because it includes both interviews and physical exams.

The researchers assessed fruit, vegetable, legume, and whole grain consumption in order to determine fiber intake. They classified people who consumed more than 17.5 grams of fiber daily (571 participants) as being in the top quartile and those who consumed less than 10.75 grams daily (360 participants) as being in the bottom quartile.

After adjusting for demographic and health factors, the researchers found an independent association between fiber intake and lung function. 68.3% of the participants in the top quartile of consumption had normal lung function, compared with 50.1% in the bottom quartile. Additionally, only 14.8% in the top quartile had airway restriction, compared to 29.8% in the bottom quartile.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 19, 2016, in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Previous studies have linked fiber consumption with lowering total and LDL cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar for people with diabetes.

There are two type of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be found naturally in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat and grains, brown rice, fruit, broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy vegetables.

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