New Study Says Eating More Fiber & Yogurt May Decrease Your Risk Of Lung Cancer
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
When it comes to disease, a little prevention can go a long way. And if part of that prevention includes eating delicious food, we're more than happy to oblige. The latest disease-fighting foods du jour are an unexpected but powerful pair—yogurt and fiber.
New research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that a diet high in fiber and/or yogurt was associated with a decreased risk of developing lung cancer. These findings stemmed from the analysis of several studies, which in total included 1.44 million individuals across the United States, Europe, and Asia. While high intakes of fiber and yogurt were individually associated with reduced lung cancer risk—when considered jointly, researchers saw that those with the highest fiber or yogurt intake had a 33% reduced lung cancer risk when compared to those who consumed no yogurt and little fiber.
"Our study provides strong evidence supporting the U.S. 2015-2020 Dietary Guideline recommending a high fiber and yogurt diet," said Xiao-Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, senior author of the study and co-leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
"This inverse association was robust," she noted, "consistently seen across current, past, and never smokers, as well as men, women, and individuals with different backgrounds."
Researchers suspect that the prebiotic and probiotic properties of fiber and yogurt are at play, but beyond that, it isn't entirely clear why fiber and yogurt have this impact. Other studies have shown their benefits for cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal cancer—and that's in addition to the long list of benefits both fiber and yogurt tout.
Probiotics, as you may know, are a crucial component of gut health and overall well-being. They can improve your immunity and digestion, and many people have even experienced acne-clearing and brain-boosting effects. And fiber, while best known for its ability to keep us regular, has been proven to lower our risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Probiotics actually feed on the fiber we consume, so it makes sense that they pair well together and that a high-fiber, probiotic-rich diet supports healthy well-being.
If you're lactose-intolerant or sensitive to dairy, there are plenty of other ways to get your daily dose of probiotics. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso are packed with live active cultures, as is kombucha and sourdough bread. If you still want an added boost, you could also take a probiotic supplement—just make sure you're choosing the right one.
And for those of you looking to add more fiber to your diet (which, given that over 90% of Americans don't consume the recommended amount of daily fiber, is most of you), you have a number of options. Most vegetables contain some level of fiber, but you can also turn to chia seeds, oats, berries, nuts, grains, and legumes. Fiber also comes in supplement form, which can make it easy to go overboard. Word to the wise: Too much fiber can cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. Slow is the way to go.
To sum up: Even if you feel that you aren't susceptible to lung cancer—you have no risk factors and do nothing to provoke it—eating a diet high in fiber and probiotics (specifically yogurt) seems to have a plethora of health benefits for all humans. So instead of asking why you should eat them, maybe you should ask, "Why not?"
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