Fiber is known to have many health benefits, particularly related to maintaining a good digestive system. A new study suggests that it may have even broader impacts on health and aging. A study of 1,600 adults were looked at and 250 of them had successful aging- a term described as being free of a variety of major diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. People who had a higher level of eating fiber had a 79 percent increase in successful aging versus the comparator. It is an interesting finding which could lead to changes down the road in how we look at nutrition and aging.
While this is still a preliminary study and more robust data is needed before making a conclusion one way or another, it validates the importance of getting enough fiber in your diet. If you need to increase your fiber intake, try to look to fruits and vegetables first, but if you feel like fiber is still lacking, there are a number of supplements that you can buy over the counter that will help with this- including Fiber One and Metamucil. There are also a number of snacks now on the market with added fiber- these can also be used to supplement your natural intake of fiber (just make sure those snacks don’t contain too much sugar, fat, or other unwanted attributes!)
It is still unclear which mechanism the fiber played in the anti-aging activity and if it was statistically significant. It is possible that some of the impact was due to weight loss which can be caused by fiber as the body can have increased satiety from the increased fiber intake. Some confounders were also not looked at- including exercise and sleep habits. For these reasons, more studies and perhaps more robust designs (such as randomized controlled trials) are needed in order to really draw conclusions that can be applied to individual therapeutic decision-making.
Healthy living is a very important part of ensuring health aging. While this data is too early to really act upon, there are a number of other more proven things that you can do in order to ensure that you age as appropriate and live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Amongst these lifestyle choices are making sure that you get enough exercise (at least 15 minutes a day for five days a week, 30 minutes or more a day if possible) and making sure you eat healthy and well-balanced meals. When it comes to your diet you want to make sure you eat plenty of veggies and fruits as well as a good amount of protein while limiting fats, oils, processed foods, and bad carbs- especially sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Beyond exercising and eating well, make sure you get a good night’s sleep every day and try to keep a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible (sleep hygiene can be a very important part of good mental health). Do these fundamental things and you are sure to live a healthy and well lifestyle.
Image credit: Jacek Nowak