By Carl Zimmer, New York Times
Click on the picture to read the full story in the New York Times.
A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: People who eat more of it simply have lower odds of dying.
Hannah D. Holscher, a nutrition scientist at the University of Illinois who was not involved in the new studies, said that the results on mice need to be put to the test in humans. But it’s much harder to run such studies on people.
In her own lab, Dr. Holscher acts as a round-the-clock personal chef. She and her colleagues provide volunteers with all their meals for two weeks. She can then give some of her volunteers an extra source of fiber — such as walnuts — and look for changes in both their microbiome and their levels of inflammation.
Dr. Holscher and other researchers hope that they will learn enough about how fiber influences the microbiome to use it as a way to treat disorders. Lowering inflammation with fiber may also help in the treatment of immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Fiber may also help reverse obesity. Last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Holscher and her colleagues reviewed a number of trials in which fiber was used to treat obesity. They found that fiber supplements helped obese people to lose about five pounds, on average.
Click on the picture above to read the full story in the January 1, 2018 Science & Heath Sections of the New York Times.