Eat fiber, breathe better

A high fiber diet may protect lungs against disease, according to new research.

Yet another reason to eat a fiber-rich diet: recent research suggests it may be a powerful tool for keeping lungs healthy.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 adults taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that among people who consumed the most fiber, 68 percent had normal lung function, compared to people who ate the least fiber. Only 50 percent of those subjects had lungs that functioned normally. Only 14 percent of fiber lovers had airway restriction, compared to nearly 30 percent of the fiber-averse.

People who ate more fiber also rocked two important breathing tests. They performed significantly better than those with the lowest fiber intake. Those in the top quartile had a greater lung capacity (FVC) and could exhale more air in one second (FEV1) than those in the lowest quartile. The research appeared in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society and was noted on

"Lung disease is an important public health problem, so it's important to identify modifiable risk factors for prevention," lead author Corrine Hanson PhD, RD, an associate professor of medical nutrition at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said in a university release. "However, beyond smoking, very few preventive strategies have been identified. Increasing fiber intake may be a practical and effective way for people to have an impact on their risk of lung disease."

If further studies confirm the findings of this report, Hanson believes that public health campaigns may one day "target diet and fiber as safe and inexpensive ways of preventing lung disease."

It may also help prevent complications from diabetes, according to recent research.

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