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Heart Attack Survivors Live Longer with More Fibre

After suffering a heart attack, major lifestyle changes are often in order, for the best long term results. A recent study shows how increased fibre in the diet can help.

Increasing the amount of fibre that you consume is, for most people, a good thing. Although some assume that eating foods rich in fibre is unappealing, it is an important part of a healthy diet. People who avoid it often complain that fibre rich foods take too long to chew or cause gassiness. 

Recent surveys show that approximately 70% of men and 90% of women in the UK consume less than 18 grams of fibre per day (the current recommended amount). New recommendations in Australia are indicating that consuming 25-30 grams of fibre per day is required for a healthy diet!

Fibre is a carbohydrate that comes from mostly plant based sources, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fibre may be soluble (easily broken down during the digestive process, associated with reducing “bad” cholesterol levels) or insoluble (not easily broken down, quickly moved through the digestive system and helps to clean out the body and remove toxins).

During the 80s, a fad diet known as the F Plan recommended consuming 1500 calories per day, with huge amounts of fibre. As fibre helps to increase the feeling of fullness, the 1500 high-fibre calories helped those on the diet to feel satisfied, and it was somewhat successful—a bestseller in some circles. 

Today, many sources of fibre are consumed through processed foods and manufactured fibre, though the natural sources are still preferred for the healthiest results.

The recent study showed how people who have experienced a heart attack can benefit significantly from adding fibre to their diet. More than 121,000 women and 51,000 men were followed over the course of approximately 9 years. 

At the conclusion of the study, more than 2,200 women and 1,800 men, none of whom had any diagnosed heart problems at the initiation of the study, had experienced a heart attack during that time frame. Scientists accounted for certain risk factors, including smoking, physical activity, family history of heart problems, obesity, diabetes, prescriptions and substance use, and dietary habits.

Participants who consumed more than 10 grams of fibre per day following a heart attack showed a 15% decrease in the risk of dying during each 9 year period following their heart attack, for all causes of death. 

It was noted that the fibre found in cereals was the most beneficial for providing protective benefits to the heart. Cereal also provided benefits that included regulating blood glucose levels and helping with weight control.

Adding fibre to the diet can help nearly everyone have a healthier lifestyle. People who do not consume a healthy amount of fibre are at a higher risk for constipation, haemorrhoids, and even cancer of the bowels and rectum. 

Gradual introduction of fibre is best, as too much too soon can lead to bloating and gassiness. Getting a variety of soluble and insoluble fibres is best. Avoiding white flours, pastas and rice is recommended, too.

Although it has long been known that fibre helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, this new study shows how it can provide even greater protection to those who have had their first heart attack, and increase the chances of their long term survival. 

Because the survival rate for heart attack has been slowing increasing, researchers are seeking to find ways to help survivors have better long term outcomes and trying to determine the lifestyle changes that can help boost the results of the latest medications.


SOURCES:; image courtesy of phasinphoto /