Omaha, NE—Data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) suggest that a fiber-rich diet supports respiratory health, specifically reducing the risk of lung disease.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Kentucky, CIRO+ and the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at data from 1,921 adults who participated in NHANES and for which lung function and fiber intake data were available. The investigators adjusted for factors like weight, smoking and demographic. Researchers found that those with the highest fiber intake (17.5 grams of fiber a day and more) had higher forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume (FEV) than the lowest-fiber group (less than 10.75 grams of fiber a day). Meanwhile, low fiber intake was associated with reduced lung function.

In the group with the highest fiber intake, 68.3% had normal lung function (compared with 50.1% in the bottom quartile of fiber intake) and only 8% had airway restriction (versus 29.8% in the bottom quartile).

“A diet rich in fiber-containing foods may play a role in improving lung health,” the researchers conclude.

These data will be published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 2/5/2016