Heart attack survivors could live longer by eating more fibre


Earlier this month I told about how a combination of unhealthy eating and increasingly sedentary lifestyles can cause your heart to age prematurely, which is why I want to tell you about other recent research findings that found that myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack) survivors who consume a greater amount of fibre can increase their life expectancy.

Researchers, led by Shanshan Li of Harvard School of Public Health, utilised data from 1,840 men enrolled in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study and 2,258 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, who had survived an initial heart attack during the studies’ follow-up periods.

The researchers followed these patients for an average of almost nine years after their heart attacks, during which time 682 of the women and 451 of the men died. Dietary questionnaires, completed every four years, provided information on fibre intake before and after the heart attack.

In a pooled analysis of all subjects, those whose post-MI intake of fibre was among the top one-fifth of participants had a 25 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause and a 13 per cent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest fifth. When fibre was analysed by source, cereal fibre emerged as significantly protective.

The results also suggested that for every daily 10g increase in fibre intake, the risk of dying over the nine year follow up period decreased by 15 per cent. This was adjusted to take further factors like age, medical history and other dietary and lifestyle habits into account.

The researchers believe that fibre’s protective effect in this area could result from reductions in inflammation, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and lipid peroxidation, as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity, glycaemic control and gut microbiota.

Commenting on the findings, the researchers said: “Future research on lifestyle changes post-MI should focus on a combination of lifestyle changes and how they may further reduce mortality rates beyond what is achievable by medical management alone.”

According to the researchers, UK adults eat an average of 14g of fibre per day, 4g short of the national daily recommendation. In the US, less than 5 per cent of Americans get the minimum recommended fibre intake of 25g a day for women and 38g a day for men.

Fruit, such as bananas and apples, root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, wholemeal bread, cereals and bran are all rich in fibre. A jacket potato and baked beans have about 10g of fibre; two slices of wholemeal bread about 4g.

Here's to your good health,

Rachael Linkie
Managing Editor
Journal Of Natural Health Solutions



British Medical Journal, 29 April 2014

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