Dietary Fiber and Telomere Length in 5674 U.S. Adults: An NHANES Study of Biological Aging

Nutrients. 2018 Mar 23;10(4):400. doi: 10.3390/nu10040400.


The relationship between fiber intake and telomere length was evaluated using a cross-sectional design and an NHANES sample of 5674 U.S. adults. Another purpose was to test the impact of potential confounders on the association. Fiber consumption was measured using a 24 h recall and telomere length was indexed using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. Overall, the U.S. adults had low fiber intake (median: 6.6 g per 1000 kcal)-less than one-half the recommendation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. With age, gender, race, housing status, and misreported energy intake controlled, the relationship between fiber intake per 1000 kcal and telomere length was linear (F = 9.5, p = 0.0045). Specifically, for each 1 g increment in fiber intake per 1000 kcal, telomeres were 8.3 base pairs longer. Because each additional year of chronological age was associated with telomeres that were 15.5 base pairs shorter, results suggest that a 10 g increase in fiber intake per 1000 kcal would correspond with telomeres that are 83 base pairs longer. On average, this would equate to 5.4 fewer years of biologic aging (83 ÷ 15.5). With smoking, BMI, alcohol use, and physical activity controlled, as well as the other covariates, each 10 g increment in fiber accounted for telomeres that were 67 base pairs longer (F = 7.6, p = 0.0101), a biologic aging difference of about 4.3 years. In conclusion, significant fiber consumption accounts for longer telomeres and less biologic aging than lower levels of fiber intake.

Keywords: ageing; complex carbohydrate; diet; lignin; resistant starch; whole grains.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Telomere / genetics*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Telomere Shortening*
  • United States


  • Dietary Fiber