Monday, January 3, 2011

Even Individuals on a "Healthy" Diet May Benefit from Supplemental Fiber

Fiber has been advertised for years as a universal health promoter. It curves appetite, reduces cholesterol and improves digestion - but is it really necessary to supplement with additional fiber, if your intake in fibrous veggies etc. is already high? A recent study by scientists from Australia (Pal. 2010) suggests that it may not be necessary, yet beneficial.
Figure 1: Changes in body weight (A); BMI (B); % body fat (C) and waist circumference (D).
From left to right: Control, FIB, HLT, HLT-FIB

Studying a cohort of 72 overweight and obese individuals with a BMI between 25 and 40 kg/m2 and age between 18 and 65 years, the researchers found that over a time period of 12 weeks in which the subjects either practiced their "normal" eating habits or changed to a healthy food diet (HFT), supplemented with fiber (FIB) or switched to a healthy food diet that was supplemented with fiber (HFT-FIB)...
[...] weight, BMI and % total body fat were significantly reduced in FIB and HLT–FIB groups, with weight and BMI significantly reduced in the HLT group compared with control at 12 weeks. HLT–FIB and HLT groups had significant reductions in TAG and insulin compared with control at 6 and 12 weeks, and in insulin compared with the FIB group at 12 weeks. The HLT–FIB, HLT and FIB groups all had significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol compared with control after 6 and 12 weeks.
As can be seen from figure 1 (above) the addition of fiber to an already healthy diet did in fact improve the overall beneficial results of the change in dietary habits. Bottom line: Firstly, eat healthy! Secondly, consider using a fiber supplement only if your diet is already in check.