In a compelling and very interesting, at least to me, article in the February 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine there is a report showing how a high intake of dietary fiber, which is found only in plants, significantly reduced the overall risk of death.
This article was sponsored by the National Institute of Health at Rockville, Md., and the AARP.
The study looked at 30,000 deaths over a nine-year period. In looking at deaths for all causes the folks with the highest intake of fiber were 22 percent less likely to die than those with the lowest intake.
Then when deaths just from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory disease were investigated they found, again comparing high fiber intake with low fiber intake, the risk of death was lowered by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and by 34 percent to 59 percent in women. It was pointed out that it is the dietary fiber from whole grains but not from other sources that caused these dramatic findings.
The authors stated that probably fiber from isolates such as fiber supplements do not help that much. They also agree with the 2010 government dietary guidelines that recommend choosing high fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Like all good scientists do, they recommended other researchers should do studies to see if these results can be replicated or reproduced.
This could take a number of years, so what should folks do in the meantime? I don't think anyone would be doing themselves any harm by following the government guidelines and increasing their fiber intake.
As a person who has been interested in preventive medicine even before going to medical school I do not recall ever seeing a report like this. I feel it has profound implications.
Some may wonder what would be good sources of whole grains. There are on the market seven-grain cereals to be cooked. Also you can find prepared cereals such as Kashi Go Lean Crunch. There are also breads on the market with seven or more whole grains in them.
Since this is a short article I wish to state that I feel a responsibility to the publishers of this newspaper and its readers to provide information from the following sources:
Recognized scientific journals or books.
Information from reputable institutions.
From my own observations from nearly 54 years of family practice.
It is the intent to continue these articles for an indefinite period until either the publisher decides to stop or I decide to hang it up.
Now I would like to add in a brief note what I would call a health nugget as follows:
A few years ago I leaned that when I had painful cracks alongside my fingernails or small cuts on my hands or any other part of my body a dab of Superglue or Crazy Glue made them heal faster than anything else I had tried.
One does need to use this material carefully to be sure you don't glue something together that shouldn't be. Also in no case should children be allowed to use these substances.
Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent 4 years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.