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Increased fibre intake could prevent common bowel disorder

By Kieran Ball - 20 Jul 2011 19:51:0 GMT
Increased fibre intake could prevent common bowel disorder

It has long been thought that sticking to a 'five-a-day' veg and fruit regime is good for general health, but now evidence has emerged that vegetarians with a high intake of fibre are considerably less likely to suffer from common bowel disorder. The condition, also known as diverticular disease, occurs when pouches form in the colon. In severe cases, these can lead to blockages in the colon and, occasionally, death.

However, now a report in the British Medical Journal says that individuals with a high fibre content in their diet, such as vegetarians, can significantly lower their chances of developing common bowel disorder.

Dr Francesca Crowe headed up a team from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford on a long-term study of 47,033 individuals of which 15,459 were vegetarians. Their findings showed that after an average of 11 to 12 years, there were 812 cases of diverticular disease and six deaths as a result of complications caused by the condition. After taking into account factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking and body mass index (BMI), vegetarians were found significantly less prone to the condition whereas participants who consumed less than 14g of fibre per day were shown to be at greatest risk of being hospitalised with the disease.

Clearly, more work needs to be done to ascertain the effect of other dietary factors, such as the amount and type of meat consumed by non-vegetarians. It's also known that susceptibility to diverticular disease increases with age. Almost all people over the age of 80 will suffer from the disease at some stage.

At a time when a recent nationwide survey in the UK showed that 72% of men and 87% of women were not getting the recommended intake of 18g of fibre per day, it's clear that people could be putting their health at risk by not having enough fibre in their diets. Most health experts recommend a balanced diet with plenty of wholemeal bread and cereals, as well as fruit and vegetables to keep the digestion system in good shape.

Top Image Credit: Vegan Salad - Wheat Berry Salad with Cranberries and Nuts © Rohit Seth