You know fiber’s good for you. It keeps the pipes running smoothly and keeps the laxatives on the shelf. Plus, according to many well-known studies, fiber helps protect you against colon cancer.
But what about breast cancer? Does eating plenty of fiber play a role in preventing breast cancer as well?
That’s what scientists from the National Institutes of Health set out to discover.
Are women eating enough fiber?
Scientists asked 200,000 women to fill out a lengthy survey about their eating habits. Then they did some quick math to figure out each woman’s daily fiber intake. Seven years later, the scientists checked back in on the women. More than 5,000 of them had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Fiber slashed certain breast cancer tumors 44%!
Did fiber intake play a role in preventing cancer?
It sure did! Compared to women with low fiber diets, the women with high fiber diets decreased their overall risk of developing cancer.
In fact, women with the highest reported fiber intake reduced their risk of developing certain types of breast cancer tumors by 44 percent.
But is all fiber created equal?
When most of us think of fiber, we think of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But that kind of fiber, called insoluble fiber, really didn’t help the women in the study very much.
Instead, the women who ate the most soluble fiber got the most protection. This kind of fiber is found in foods like oats, nuts, barley and flax seed.
That certainly got me thinking.
Why does soluble fiber provide more protection against breast cancer? We know that soluble fiber controls blood sugar and insulin better than insoluble fiber. Does that make a difference in preventing breast cancer? Or does it have to do with estrogen? We know that too much estrogen puts a woman at risk for developing breast cancer. Does soluble fiber help regulate estrogen in the body better than insoluble fiber?
Clearly, this study raises lots of questions. And it may take years to figure it all out. And it’s not a cause-and-effect type study so more research needs to be done.
But one thing is for sure, it definitely makes the case for eating more soluble fiber!
So here’s a little primer about how to get more into your diet…
Soluble fiber facts
Oatmeal makes a great breakfast high in soluble fiber. Plus, try to keep plenty of nuts around the house. They’re high in soluble fiber as well as omega-3s.
You can also get a decent amount of soluble fiber from…
- pinto beans,
- brown rice,
- and carrots.
All of these fiber rich foods will help fill you up and flush you out. Plus, they will help you metabolize sugar.
They can also help keep your “bad” cholesterol in check. And they will even help you control the most nagging IBS symptoms.
Stop counting fiber grams
Some diets have you counting fiber grams. And most experts recommend getting 25-45 grams of total fiber per day. But I’ve never had to count fiber grams.
That’s because I eat lots of nuts, fruits, and vegetables. And I only eat unrefined grains like real brown rice, 100 percent stone ground whole wheat, dehulled barley and steel-cut oats.
Be careful of the wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing. Any bread described as anything but 100 percent stone ground whole wheat isn’t whole grain. And it’s not going to do you any good.
Let’s hope these government docs have hit the nail on the head for once. It’s good news, indeed, for women already eating plenty of fiber!
Dr. Allan Spreen
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