Millions of people are at risk of an early death because they do not eat enough fibre, according to a major study.
A review commissioned by the World Health Organisation found that people who get plenty of fibre in their diet cut their risk of early mortality by up to a third.
They also cut their risk of a heart attack, stroke, type two diabetes or bowel cancer by up to a quarter.
The findings are a blow for trendy low-carb diets, which have boomed in popularity in recent years and have also driven down fibre intake.
Fibre – sometimes referred to as ‘roughage’ is vital for digestion and helps keep people feeling fuller for longer.
It is found in high levels in fruit, vegetables, and cereals, as well as bread and pasta made with wholegrain and wholewheat.
But the rise of processed food which often cuts out much of the fibre in raw ingredients has meant people often get too little of these ingredients.
Researcher Professor John Cummings, of the University of Dundee, said the new review published in the Lancet medical journal will have a major impact.
‘This is a defining moment in the fibre story,’ he said.
‘The work that we have done means we have enough evidence from population studies, human experimental work and the biochemistry and physiological of fibre to be confident of the clear benefits to health.
His team combined the results of more than 230 previous studies, involving 215,000 people.