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Increasing Dietary Fiber Leads to Other Healthy Changes

Trial comparing simple dietary change to more complicated regimen found similar health benefits

TUESDAY, Feb. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A simple high-fiber diet can provide health benefits while being easier to stick with than a diet calling for multiple changes in eating habits, according to research published in the Feb. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers asked 240 adults who were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes to change their diets for one year. Half were just asked to increase their fiber intake to at least 30 grams per day. The other half were asked to follow the American Heart Association (AHA) diet guidelines, which contain 13 components, including eating more fruits and vegetables; reducing sugar and salt consumption; choosing lean proteins; cutting back on alcohol consumption; and carefully balancing intake of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Twelve of the 121 high-fiber dieters dropped out during the course of the study, compared with 15 of the 119 AHA dieters. The average weight loss after a year was about 6 pounds for the AHA dieters and 4.6 pounds for the high-fiber followers, but all participants experienced lower blood pressure and reduced blood glucose levels. Eight participants developed type 2 diabetes during the trial: seven in the high-fiber diet group and one in the AHA diet group.

“For people who find it difficult to follow complex dietary recommendations, a simple-to-follow diet with just one message — increase your fiber intake — may be the way to go,” study author Yunsheng Ma, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the division of preventive and behavioral medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, told HealthDay. “In the high-fiber group, we only asked them to increase fiber,” he said. “However, we found that increasing dietary fiber was accomplished by a host of other healthy dietary changes, likely because high-fiber foods displaced unhealthy foods — such as fatty and sugary foods — in the diet.”

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