October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re doing our best to spread information about how we can all better protect ourselves. You’re probably aware that breast cancer can be hereditary, but did you know that your diet and lifestyle can help mitigate your risk? Specifically, eating fiber for breast cancer may be one of the best ways to prevent the disease.
Fiber for Breast Cancer – How it Works
Eating fiber is considered to be healthy for a lot of reasons. For one, fiber helps normalize bowel movements and balances the digestive system, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, fights depression and mood-related issues, and could even help achieve a healthier weight and increase your longevity! It’s a nutrient that’s often touted for disease prevention, too. Most recently, fiber has been put on the list of nutrients that could help prevent breast cancer.
In a 2020 analysis of studies conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researchers were able to determine that a high fiber diet was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk. For their analysis, the team collected data from 20 prospective studies that examined the association between fiber consumption and breast cancer. They compared subjects who consumed the highest versus the lowest amounts of fiber in their diets, as well as the types of fiber consumed.
From the analysis, the researchers found that both soluble and insoluble fiber (solube fiber dissolves in water while insoluble fiber is bulk-forming) intake was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk, and that subjects who ate the most fiber were less likely to develop breast cancer than those who consumed the least. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “The reduction in breast cancer risk was seen for both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancers, as well as different types of breast cancer, including those that were estrogen and progesterone receptor–positive and estrogen and progesterone receptor–negative.”
The researchers suggest that the results are most likely explained by fibers ability to lower blood sugar and estrogen levels in the body, since high amounts of both of these have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Getting more fiber in your diet might seem tricky, but it’s actually pretty easy! Firstly, it’s important to note how much fiber you should really be eating. While it’s estimated that most adults consume between 10 and 15 grams of fiber per day, experts at Harvard Health recommend that women get at least 25 to 35 grams per day. However, if you’re eating a low-fiber diet now, it’s a good idea to steadily increase your intake, as doing so dramatically can cause some digestive upset.
The best way to get more fiber is through the foods in your diet. Some foods that are high in fiber include avocados, chia seeds, wholegrain foods like Ezekiel bread and brown rice, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, vegetables like peas, squash, and sweet potatoes, and fruits like apples and pears! For more food ideas, check out this list of our favorite high-fiber snacks you can start incorporating into your diet today.