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30g of fibre: does the research support this recommendation?

A couple weeks back, various click-baity headlines cropped up focusing on fibre, but why the sudden focus on this food component and was the research even any good?


Our verdict


This new research titled 'Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses' was a comprehensive review with meaningful results looking into mainly whole foods. With no conflicts of interest, being commissioned by the World Health organisation and published in the prestigious journal 'The Lancet' provide a great platform for this research. The findings concerning fibre were consistent within the review, with previous research and with the UK recommendations. Considering we now have over 100 years of research in this topic, it helps solidify that it is crucial to focus on quality rather than quantity with carbohydrates, and it is likely that increasing fibre intake will help save lives.

The research


Title: Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Published: 10th January 2019

Funding: Non-profit organisations and the World Health Organization commissioned the research Researchers: University of Otago

Journal: The Lancet


Key facts

- Only 9% of the UK population hit the recommended 30g target for fibre

- 135 million person years of data analysed

- Highest fibre intake vs lowest = 15-31% decrease in all causes of mortality

- 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials analysed with 4635 adult participants.

- Per 8g increase of fibre intake = 2-19% reduction in heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer

- For every 1000 people this reduction leads to 26 fewer deaths


Strengths


- Looked at both cohort and randomised control trials

- No conflicts of interest - funded by independent, non-profits

- Looked at the impact of carbohydrates on a range of diseases

- A large body of data was analysed


Weaknesses


- Quality marker associations with outcomes were rated as moderate or low

- The research looked at the impact risk for the whole population, not individuals already with conditions

- There was not much data for food products apart from cereal fibre


This was a meta-analysis of both cohort studies and clinical trials, so essentially they took a large number of previous research that had been completed and pooled all the results together, analysing them all in one big mathematical soup. The cohort studies simply track people over time and the clinical trials are studies which actively change something. In this case, they would have increased or decreased the fibre consumption for one group of people whilst keeping one group of similar people the same, known as the control group.


The results confirm the importance of fibre and supports the recommendation of 30g per week as an achievable goal, considering that only 9% are currently hitting this target. However, this new research found a dose dependent response, meaning the more fibre consumed the better. There was no reduction in benefits after 30g so the more the merrier!


Check back in tomorrow for how to easily hit your 30g.