Low-grade systemic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Modifiable factors can reduce inflammation and potentially modulate disease risk.
One of these factors is dietary fiber intake, in which higher intakes have been associated with lower systemic inflammation in various studies, in both healthy adults and for specific health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and obesity.
A recently published study studied participants from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a cohort of adults aged 64 or older in the United States, and evaluated whether total and source-specific dietary fiber intakes were associated with levels of inflammatory markers (CRP, IL-18, IL-1, IL6), as well as with incident CVD. The study appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Cereal Fiber Best to Lower Inflammation
The study included a total of 4,125 participants enrolled from 1989 to 1990. For assessment of long-term usual dietary intake, a food frequency questionnaire was administered to the study participants at the baseline visit.
Fasting blood samples were collected from study participants at the baseline visit, and follow-up visits were scheduled every 6 months from baseline through 1999.
Among these 4125 individuals, an increase in total fiber intake of 5 g/d was associated with significantly lower concentrations of C-reactive protein and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist. C-Reactive Protein (CPR) is an acute phase protein that increases when there’s inflammation in the body. It is used to evaluate inflammation levels in autoimmune diseases and also for cardiovascular risk.
Among fiber sources, only cereal fiber was consistently associated with lower inflammation. Similarly, cereal fiber intake was associated with lower CVD incidence. The team also found that these benefits were not observed with vegetable or fruit fiber, only with cereal fiber.
Rupak Shivakoti, Ph.D., et al. Intake and Sources of Dietary Fiber, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease in Older US Adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(3):e225012. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.5012
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