If I asked you to name the one dietary factor most important to longevity and healthy aging, your answer probably wouldn’t be “fiber.” Yet that’s precisely what researchers in Australia found during a recent review of data from a landmark, 1,600-person study. Sure, most of us know that we need fiber to maintain regularity, but even I was surprised by this finding, and I’ve been in the nutrition business for over 20 years.
The new paper, published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, is based on a study that examined 1,600 men and women over 50 years old for long-term sensory loss risk factors and systemic diseases. Researchers examined the data to evaluate the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and aging.
Of all the factors reviewed, including total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake and sugar intake, only fiber stood out as contributing to what the researchers call “successful aging,” a term they define as including “an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.”
Commenting on the research, lead researcher Bamini Gopinath, PhD, said: “Out of all the variables that we looked at, fiber intake—which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest—had the strongest influence. Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up.”
While the paper is not definitive, it does shed new light on an often-overlooked aspect of daily nutrition and paves the way for further research into the role fiber plays in our overall well-being. No longer is fiber merely a means to an end, so-to-speak, but a potential key to living a longer, healthier life free of many concerns never before linked to fiber intake.
So what can you do to ensure you’re getting enough fiber? Experts say to eat a plant-based diet with plenty of whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables. But that’s easier said than done. If your “real world” diet falls short on fiber, consider a fiber supplement to help fill in the gaps. Look for a product that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber like Swanson’s Tri-Fiber Complex. Supplements like this are an economical way to get the fiber your body needs every day, to help make sure you have many more days ahead.
Read more about this surprising new study here.