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Eating Enough of These Two Nutrients May Help Lower Your Risk of Lung Cancer

Bicycling logo Bicycling 11/4/2019 Danielle Zickl
© zoranm/Getty Images
  • According to new research published in JAMA Oncology, consuming fiber and probiotics regularly can lower your risk of lung cancer.
  • For fiber, women should aim for 25 grams per day, and men should aim for 38 grams per day.
  • For probiotics, look for foods that contain at least 25 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) and contains at least eight probiotic strains.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the major keys to success when it comes to riding and racing well. Fueling with foods that contain important nutrients like fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics ensure that every part of your body—from your brain to your muscles to your gut—is functioning at its best.

Now, new research out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center has linked the consumption of these nutrients to a lower risk of developing lung cancer, too.

The review, published in JAMA Oncology, analyzed the diets of more than 1.44 million people from previous studies that were conducted in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Researchers found that people who regularly consumed high amounts of fiber and yogurt were between 15 to 19 percent less likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than those who regularly consumed little to no fiber and yogurt.

Additionally, those who regularly consumed the highest amounts of yogurt and fiber were 33 percent less likely to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—a progressive disease of lung function decline that is also a risk factor for lung cancer development.

While the team at Vanderbilt aren’t fully certain why this is, they suspect that the anti-inflammatory properties of these foods and nutrients may help reduce lung cancer risk.

Thanks to their prebiotic and probiotic properties, dietary fiber and yogurt help improve the bacterial makeup of your gut, explained lead study author Jae Jeong Yang, Ph.D., a research fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

“The gut microbiome plays a major role in reducing inflammation, one of major promoters for lung cancer,” Yang told Bicycling.

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Prebiotics are typically found in high-fiber foods and are beneficial for your immune system and metabolism, according to Yang. Prebiotics are also what “feed” probiotics—or the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics, Yang said, are living microorganisms, commonly included in yogurt, that can improve the composition or function of gut microbiota and benefit the immune system.

“We expect that people who consume more fiber and yogurt would have a healthier microbiome, and thus promote good health overall,” she said.

Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day, according to the Mayo Clinic.

a plate of food with a slice of cake on a table: According to new research published in JAMA Oncology, consuming fiber and yogurt regularly can lower your risk of lung cancer. © ATU Images - Getty Images According to new research published in JAMA Oncology, consuming fiber and yogurt regularly can lower your risk of lung cancer. Foods high in fiber:

  • 1 cup of raspberries: 8 grams
  • 1 cup of broccoli (boiled): 5 grams
  • 1 apple (with skin): 4.5 grams
  • 1 baked potato (with skin): 4 grams

The most common probiotic strains you’ll find in foods are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Look for foods that contain at least 25 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) and contains at least eight probiotic strains.

“I generally recommend 25 to 35 billion CFUs. Keep in mind that while 25 to 35 billion CFUs may sound like a lot, our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms weighing about 2 kilograms,” Barbara Lewin, R.D.N., C.S.S.D., L.D.N., previously told Bicycling.

Foods high in probiotics:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha

While the best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to not smoke—or quit as soon as possible if you do smoke—a healthy diet can also contribute to a lower risk as well.

Gallery: Causes of lung cancer that have nothing to do with smoking (Prevention)

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