An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This famous saying certainly seems to be the case in a new study published in Pediatrics that shows that teenage girls who eat a fiber-rich diet may have a considerably lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
In the study, 4,4000 women were asked about their dietary history during their teenage years. Researchers found that those woman who ate a high-fiber diet had a 24% lower risk of breast cancer before menopause, compared with women who ate low levels of fiber. For the women on the high-fiber diet, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer was also cut by 16%.
One of the reasons behind fiber intake and reduced breast cancer is that dietary fibers may reduce circulating estrogen levels. Another thought about the link is that high-fiber diets may reduce the risk of breast cancer by improving insulin sensitivity, since fiber can slow down the absorption of sugars and help keep blood sugar levels more stable, and the influence of fiber on cancer risk may be time-sensitive.
The current recommendation for women is 25 grams per day. Aiming for more is probably a good idea. In the study, the women who had the lower incidence of breast cancer averaged about 28 grams of fiber.
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are all great sources of fiber, and if incorporated at every meal, can easily meet the 25 gram per day target. If you have a young daughter at home, be the example and incorporate high fiber foods into your family’s diet. If your diet has been lacking, don’t rush into eating a whole whack of bran cereal! Add high-fiber foods slowly until you reach at least the 25 grams and make sure you drink plenty of water to help with movement!
Where does the ounce of prevention come in? Well, one ounce of air popped popcorn has about 4 grams of fiber, so it’s a great addition to a healthy fiber diet!
Here are examples of other foods that offer high amounts of fiber:
Pear: 7 grams
Sweet potato: 4 grams
1 cup of edamame: 8 grams
1 cup of black beans (cooked): 15 grams
1 cup of raspberries: 8 grams
1/2 avocado: 6 grams
1 cup of bran flakes: 6 grams
Photo from here, with thanks.