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Fiber from whole grains has more impact on longevity than that from fruit, veggies, and legumes?!?

by (598)
Updated about 3 hours ago
Created July 21, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Fully embracing the paleo diet, every time I come across this sort of study or article I get a heavy, worried feeling like "what if we're all off our rockers" lol... Whole grains seem to have a lot going for them.

http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/a/...

Anyway I'm mostly posting in the hopes that someone can perpetuate the prophecy by pointing out how the authors have alterior motives or are down right confused. I hate to think we're all espousing a flawed philosophy that just happens to work for some of us. We all have variations of paleo but so far as I know none of them allow for a few hearty servings of fibrous whole grains each week...

Another possibility is that people simply benefit a lot from replacing white flower with whole grain alternatives and we're better off removing it all together? Admittedly though I've been thinking more and more about reintroducing more gluten free whole grains to my diet. Someone want to point out why exactly phytates are evil as part of a nutrient dense whole foods diet?

Edit: since @cdone and @raydawg seem to have missed something, then gone on to suggest I'm imagining assertions the article never made, I'll make live easier for unthorough readers by quoting the end of the paragraph about 7 into the article...

The part that concerned me: "However, in this research the greatest longevity boost was only linked to fiber from grains; fiber derived from vegetables and legumes was found to be only weakly linked to a lower risk of death, while fruits, not at "

So how did they arrive at this conclusion and why is the conclusion flawed?

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26182 · July 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM

I disagree with this. The problem is that we are not measuring the right things -- primarily because 1. We can't with current technology. 2. We don't know what to measure.

If we can advance nutritional sciences away from observational studies and into cellular and nuclear studies (as they did with cancer research in the 80s) we can identify changes that are precursors to long term damage. This can happen in weeks or months of study. Currently its all closed loop and hard to replicate in a human.

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484 · July 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Right. Which kind of sucks because it means that in our life time, the only properly done nutritional science we are going to get will probably be from short-term human clinical trials or from studies on short-lived animals like rats. Heck even primates like chimps (most genetically similar to us) can live up to 50 years in captivity, rendering it unfeasible to conduct a long term study on them.

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598 · July 22, 2014 at 3:34 PM

The problem with asking for true dietary science, especially where long term human health and longevity are concerned, is that nobody is going to do the proper experiments. Even if they did, we wouldn't have the results in for at least 30 years. Preferably the experiment would run more like 75 years and be well controlled. So for now we just have to rely on theory and observation...

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4393 · July 22, 2014 at 3:12 AM

i wonder if resistant starch has any part to play in this. depending on the types of fruit and vegetables in the diet, the whole grains diet may have been higher in RS....?

ps. i did not actually read the article, so my comment may not make sense :)

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM

methodician my skepticism about the benefits of whole grains comes from N=1 experience. I developed diabetes while eating a lot of fiber in breakfast cereal. The high fiber wasn't the direct cause - overeating is what made me fat - but it didn't prevent it. And seeing that "heart healthy" symbol on the box certainly didn't discourage my overeating. A couple years later I tried the Wilfred Brimley method of eating lots of bran to reduce cholesterol and saw no effect. My personal conclusion is that if there is any benefit from grain fiber it is very minor.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 3:52 PM

@Methodician I saw that, and it's included in my sub-answer #3. The value in the study comes from magnitude and that is perceptive.

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484 · July 21, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Isn't that the guy with the handle bar mustache from the "Diabeetus" commercials?

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484 · July 21, 2014 at 2:46 PM

You know, I actually wouldn't mind a study whose outcome would contradict the Paleo hypothesis at all, as long as it was a proper, controlled, scientific study which follows the correct methodology. Instead most of what passes for a "scientific study" nowadays is a food questionnaire. That isn't science, that's polling, and just like polling for political reasons, it's very easy to spin the results since it's not based on solid data.

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598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Regarding your final conclusion: please see my edit for your convenience and pay more attention before accusing people of making things up....

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598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Regarding your #1 response: see my edit for your convenience and think twice before insinuating that someone is imagining things...

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598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Yep this is just about the right sort of typical paleo retort. And I agree with it. Still have a bit of skepticism though. Articles like this one don't appear to have set out to prove that whole wheat is healthy. In fact the bit that concerns me doesn't mention wheat at all. And It's almost an afterthought: "and BTW - this study seemed to suggest grain fiber had the greatest effect and fruit fiber the least"

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Paleos have no patent on absolutism. But like vegans they have a tendency to grab results which border on being statistically relevant and make them dietary law. At best this leads to egg-on-face, at worst being exposed as a hypocrite. All the same I miss the Quilt.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I wasn't really arguing the none/less -- my argument was a relative vs absolute argument. Choices (or perceived choices based on your health status) lead to relative changes. This leads people to make absolutely arguments. Which is silly.

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Sometimes Paleos argue against the obvious just to be argumentative. Cordain for instance has taken a stand on the side of the hot dog. But it's not really either/or. There will always be hot dogs and potatoes. The sensible thing for most people is "less", not "none".

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Replacing hot dogs with potatoes...lol.

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Every time someone eats a bowl of oatmeal Wilfrid Brimley gets another set of wings.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 12:58 PM

also, you posted an article from about.com -- last time I checked, no peer review needed.

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 10:29 AM

My main conclusion about grain fiber is that it is a primary cause of farting. It didn't do anything for lowering my cholesterol when I ran an N=1 test for a month. So far as longevity goes I'm still alive...no answer for that one...

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8 · July 21, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Like the other posters said, whole grains are just a certain type of fiber. You can get fiber from more healthful, paleo sources like potatoes, yams, and other starchy tubers (I eat white sushi rice as well and love it). If you stick to paleo sources you'll get all the benefits of fiber (plus more micronutrients) without the anti-nutrients present in grains.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 12:57 PM

  1. The article you linked to says fiber, not whole grains. Lots of good places to find fiber.
  2. The dutch study that they talk about is an observation study. It shows that people who consume more fiber live longer. But it does not control for food choices. People who eat more fiber are making healthier choices, that that will permeate (i.e. what are the fruits, legumes and whole grains replacing in the lower fiber diets?)
  3. The Iowa Women’s Health Study is another observational study. This one looked at food choices over a ~20ish year period via 5 surveys. The same argument from the dutch study above holds true. In observational studies, healthy people tend to overestimate their compliance with "accepted healthy principals" and unhealthy people tend to underestimate (think buying processed "whole wheat" bread rather than white bread -- difference in health is negligible). Just read this board -- People are poor at determining what they ate yesterday -- now try that for the last four years? Also, the single highest correlation they found was to breast cancer. As far as we know, there is no connection between fiber intake and breast cancer -- THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. You have to form a hypothesis and test it. Not collect data and go fishing. If there is no mechanism for fiber intake to cause breast cancer, then you don't study it.

That being said, I think removing sugary cereals (as in the Iowa Women's Study) and replacing them with (almost) anything will have a positive effect on your health. Replacing a hot dog with a potato will have a positive effect on your health.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 12:58 PM

also, you posted an article from about.com -- last time I checked, no peer review needed.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I wasn't really arguing the none/less -- my argument was a relative vs absolute argument. Choices (or perceived choices based on your health status) lead to relative changes. This leads people to make absolutely arguments. Which is silly.

Medium avatar
598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Regarding your #1 response: see my edit for your convenience and think twice before insinuating that someone is imagining things...

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 3:52 PM

@Methodician I saw that, and it's included in my sub-answer #3. The value in the study comes from magnitude and that is perceptive.

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Replacing hot dogs with potatoes...lol.

Medium avatar
10184 · July 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Paleos have no patent on absolutism. But like vegans they have a tendency to grab results which border on being statistically relevant and make them dietary law. At best this leads to egg-on-face, at worst being exposed as a hypocrite. All the same I miss the Quilt.

Medium avatar
10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Sometimes Paleos argue against the obvious just to be argumentative. Cordain for instance has taken a stand on the side of the hot dog. But it's not really either/or. There will always be hot dogs and potatoes. The sensible thing for most people is "less", not "none".

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 12:56 PM

This is a test.

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26182 · July 21, 2014 at 12:54 PM

  1. The article you linked to says fiber, not whole grains. Lots of good places to find fiber.
  2. The dutch study that they talk about is an observation study. It shows that people who consume more fiber live longer. But it does not control for food choices. People who eat more fiber are making healthier choices, that that will permeate (i.e. what are the fruits, legumes and whole grains replacing in the lower fiber diets?)
  3. The Iowa Women’s Health Study is another observational study. This one looked at food choices over a ~20ish year period via 5 surveys. The same argument from the dutch study above holds true. In observational studies, healthy people tend to overestimate their compliance with "accepted healthy principals" and unhealthy people tend to underestimate (think buying processed "whole wheat" bread rather than white bread -- difference in health is negligible). Just read this board -- People are poor at determining what they ate yesterday -- now try that for the last four years? Also, the single highest correlation they found was to breast cancer. As far as we know, there is no connection between fiber intake and breast cancer -- THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. You have to form a hypothesis and test it. Not collect data and go fishing. If there is no mechanism for fiber intake to cause breast cancer, then you don't study it.

That being said, I think removing sugary cereals (as in the Iowa Women's Study) and replacing them with (almost) anything will have a positive effect on your health. Replacing a hot dog with a potato will have a positive effect on your health.

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484 · July 21, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Most nutrition research these days has an agenda. It has actually become quite clear. Example: if a study's outcome is that heart disease was increased by 1% in the red-meat eating group, the headline will be: "Scientists Confirm Red Meat is Deadly", but if the study shows a 10% reduction in heart disease in the red meat eating group, the headline will be: "Red Meat Study Inconclusive". Same thing with whole grains, they are practically holy and sacred by now to most nutritionist, so you'll get unscientific (not using a controlled group or the scientific method) studies comparing a health-conscious starving dieter eating a slice of whole wheat bread against a fat cow eating a slab of pizza. Of course the results are going to skew in favor of whole wheat, what other outcome can there be?

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598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Yep this is just about the right sort of typical paleo retort. And I agree with it. Still have a bit of skepticism though. Articles like this one don't appear to have set out to prove that whole wheat is healthy. In fact the bit that concerns me doesn't mention wheat at all. And It's almost an afterthought: "and BTW - this study seemed to suggest grain fiber had the greatest effect and fruit fiber the least"

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10184 · July 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Every time someone eats a bowl of oatmeal Wilfrid Brimley gets another set of wings.

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17136 · July 21, 2014 at 10:09 AM

There are plenty who would disagree with that assertion, considering that grain fibers are known to irritate the gut.

"Subjects were questioned about their diets and fiber intake, and over the nine years of follow-up" - you know what kind of worthless study this was just from this one statement. So tell us, how many grams did you eat, exactly on the 5th of December, 2011?

And note carefully the cognitive dissonance between that statement, where there's no mention of grain fiber whatsoever, the title of the About.com article where there's also no mention whatsoever about grain fiber, and your question here. So how did you go from "Fiber increases longevity" to "Grain fiber increases longevity?" Sure the article contains links to sources of grain fiber, but it does not explicitly make such a claim.

In fact, it said "Sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, wheat bran, and vegetables." Missed vegetables? It also mentioned flax which is neither a grain, nor a vegetable, but a seed. Mind you, not an optimal food due to it's low quality n3 PUFAs which humans are poor at converting to DHA, and worse due to their estrogenic nature, but neither a grain, nor a vegetable, yet mentioned there. They also failed to mention that there is fiber in fruit as well.

So, were you not paying careful attention when you pulled that "Fiber from whole grains" rabbit out of that non-existent hat?

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598 · July 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Regarding your final conclusion: please see my edit for your convenience and pay more attention before accusing people of making things up....

Medium avatar
10184 · July 21, 2014 at 10:29 AM

My main conclusion about grain fiber is that it is a primary cause of farting. It didn't do anything for lowering my cholesterol when I ran an N=1 test for a month. So far as longevity goes I'm still alive...no answer for that one...

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