Want to age gracefully? Eat plenty of this substance to slow down the aging process
(NaturalHealth365) Most people probably don’t think of anti-aging when they hear the word fiber (although bowel regularity certainly may come to mind). But it turns out that one of the key benefits of fiber is helping people maintain healthier, more youthful bodies throughout their lifespan.
What is fiber, you might ask? Fiber (including soluble and insoluble) is a type of plant material that can’t be broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract. It’s also one of those nutrients that’s best consumed from the food you eat rather than from added supplements (for reasons we’ll get into later). And research involving over 1,600 healthy adults suggests that it’s also a key player in aging gracefully.
The most underrated anti-aging nutrient helps prevent cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other age-related chronic diseases
In 2016, a team of researchers from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia published the results of their 10-year study involving over 1,600 healthy adults. They poured over the participants’ health and lifestyle habits and found that those adults who consumed the greatest amount of dietary fiber — about 29 grams per day — were the most likely to have enjoyed “successful aging,” which the researchers defined as being free of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease and having good physical and cognitive health.
The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
Fiber has also been shown to protect against inflammation and immune dysfunction, likely thanks to its ability to support the growth of healthy gut bacteria, as well as reduce the risk of high cholesterol, metabolic dysfunction, osteoarthritis, and obesity – the last of which has been shown to accelerate the aging process.
Given how beneficial fiber is, it’s tempting to assume we all should be taking fiber supplements – or at least eating lots of food that has been fortified with added fiber. (In packaged foods, added fiber includes beta-glucan, cellulose, chicory root, inulin, pectin, psyllium, and xanthan gum.)
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But while Mayo Clinic notes that it’s likely not harmful to consume fiber supplements, most experts recommend that you should prioritize eating foods that are naturally rich in fiber, including (organic) whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. That’s because these natural fiber sources also tend to be higher in other nutrients including vitamins and minerals, whereas processed foods made with added fiber are often far less nutrient-dense yet higher in calories.
How much fiber is enough fiber? Here’s your recommended daily intake, according to experts
The typical American consumes about 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day – not enough, according to the USDA. The general rule is to aim for about double that, or anywhere from 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Ideally, your fiber should come from food – not supplements.
Per serving size, fruits and veggies that boast the most amount of fiber include avocados, raspberries, oranges, apples, blueberries, pears, strawberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and squash. Legumes, including black beans and lentils, are great options. And as for whole grains, look for things like quinoa, wild rice and millet.
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