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Fiber — a prescription for disease free aging
July 4, 2016, 2:52 pm
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Fiber-rich foods not only keep your bowel motions regular, they also help you live longer without illness, says a new report just out.

In a study of over 1,600 adults, the top fiber consumers were found to be 80 percent more likely to remain fully functional and disease-free as they aged. The new study on the influence of fiber to successful aging adds to the growing list of chronic diseases for which fiber-rich foods have been found to be a protective influence.

The study defined ‘Successful aging’ as the continued absence of physical disability, depression, breathing problems, or chronic health issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

People can achieve the recommended intake of fiber consumption — around 30 grams per day — by eating a wide range of foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

While certain fruits and vegetables, such as nuts, seeds, beans, peas, corn, avocados, berries, oranges, carrots, leafy greens, bran cereals and oatmeal, contain more fiber than others, a plant-based diet is the best way to go to get the fiber your body needs for optimal health.

Different fibers also provide food for the bacteria in the gut, which may then produce substances that help promote health such as hormones that help regulate appetite and blood sugar and control inflammation.

The researchers tracked the study participants, who were 49 years and older, for a decade starting in 1994. At the start, all were free of cancer and heart disease. Surveys assessed dietary routines, with a specific focus on fiber, carbohydrates and sugar intake.

The study team concluded that 15.5 percent of the participants had aged ‘successfully’ over the 10-year time frame. By contrast, those whose fiber consumption was pegged at below-average levels were least likely to have aged well.

Blood sugar levels and the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels did not seem to play a role in how successfully people aged, the team noted. The researchers also found that only 25 percent of study participants were meeting daily fiber intake recommendations.

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