What is the best nutritional plan to fight inflammation? Is there a diet that reduces the symptoms of spondyloarthritis (SpA)? These are some of the most common questions we receive at SAA. Now, a new study helps shed light on one aspect of anti-inflammatory eating: dietary fiber.
In a study led by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, dietary fiber intake was consistently linked with lower inflammation and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. The researchers also found that the source of the fiber mattered; perhaps surprisingly, cereal (grain) fiber – but not fruit or vegetable fiber – correlated with lower levels of inflammation.1
Systemic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of a range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers set out to uncover more about the relationship between total fiber intake, fiber source, and inflammation, and whether dietary fiber was inversely related to CVD in older adults.
The study analyzed data from 4,125 U.S. adults ages 65 and older who were enrolled in the ongoing Cardiovascular Health Study between 1989 and 2015. Researchers assessed dietary fiber intake with a food frequency questionnaire, and inflammation was assessed using blood samples.
An increase in total fiber intake of 5g/daily was found to be associated with significantly lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), along with other inflammatory markers including IL-6 and IL-18. Among the three sources of fiber – fruits, vegetables, and cereals – only cereal fiber was consistently associated with lower inflammation and lower CVD incidence.
The resulting suggestion that cereal fiber specifically might be more effective in reducing systemic inflammation will need to be tested in future studies, the authors wrote in JAMA Network Open.2
“This is a very interesting study that gives support to the popular notion of wholesome components of diet contributing to less disease and improved health,” said rheumatologist Steve Lee, DO, a member of SAA’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. “Some theories may be at play regarding healthy components of some grains and cereals, like lignins and other factors, that may reduce inflammation and promote a healthy intestinal balance of good and bad bacteria.”
Dr. Lee continued, “Research supports the links of intestinal imbalances as a potential trigger for autoimmunity and inflammation, as we see in several types of arthritis like SpA. And though more research may clarify what parts of cereal fiber and at what doses and frequency may be optimal for particular individuals with inflammatory conditions (or those at risk for developing these conditions), a healthy diet with less meat, sugar, and more whole grains and fiber are likely a part of an overall healthy nutritional lifestyle.”
- Intake and Sources of Dietary Fiber, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease in Older US Adults | | Cardiology | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network
- Not all dietary fiber is equal: Cereal fiber linked with lower inflammation, but not fruit or vegetable fiber | MDLinx