Fibers in fruit and cereal might lessen risk of common bowel disease

A US study suggests that women who get more fiber from fruits and cereals may be less like to develop diverticulitis, a common and painful bowel problem. The study also suggests that vegetable sources of fiber don’t make much difference in this respect.

A low fiber diet has long been linked to an increased risk of diverticulitis, which occurs when small pockets or bulges lining the intestines become inflamed. But research to date hasn’t offered a clear picture of whether some forms of fiber might be better than others for minimizing the risk, researchers note in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

For the current study, researchers followed 50,019 women who were 43 to 70 years old at the outset, and didn’t have a history of diverticulitis, cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Over 24 years, 4,343 women developed diverticulitis.

Compared to those with the lowest amounts of fiber in their diet - around 13 grams a day - women who consumed the most fiber - closer to 27 grams a day - were 14% less likely to develop diverticulitis.

Women who consumed the most fruit fiber - around 1.7 grams a day - were 17% less likely to develop the condition than their counterparts who ate the least, at around 1.4 grams daily. Every additional daily serving of whole fruits and specific fruits like apples, pears and prunes was associated with a 5% lower risk of diverticulitis, the study also found. Some other fruits, including bananas, peaches, plums and apricots, didn’t appear to help reduce the risk.

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