Fiber intake is the key to successful aging according to a recent study from Australia. Seniors with the highest intake of fiber had an almost 80% greater chance of living a long and healthy life.
Even the scientists were surprised by the results. Fiber had a greater impact than any other dietary factor they studied, including sugar consumption. Adults who ate more complex carbohydrates significantly lowered their risk for hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and disabilities.
If you want to live a longer and enjoy a more active life without eating like a rabbit, study these practical tips. You’ll learn new facts about fiber and how to include more roughage in your diet.
Facts about Fiber
- Understand your needs. The average American eats about 15 grams of fiber a day, which is far below the recommended levels. Individual requirements decrease slightly with age, and vary from a minimum of 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 grams for men.
- Cover both bases. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble, depending on whether it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and protects your heart. Insoluble fiber enhances your digestion and helps you stay regular. Eating a variety of foods provides enough of both.
- Know the benefits. Foods rich in fiber make you feel full with fewer calories so you can manage your weight. They also help you stabilize your blood sugar and reduce your risk for certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Take it gradually. Give your digestive system time to adapt to more fiber. Add about 2 to 3 grams a week to avoid bloating and diarrhea.
- Drink more water. Drinking plenty of water will maximize the digestive benefits of fiber, and minimize constipation and gas. Stay hydrated around the clock.
Eating More Fiber
- Breakfast hearty. It’s easier to take in more fiber when you start early. Prepare a bean burrito or whip up a smoothie with kale and fresh fruit.
- Adjust the menu. Bulk up the dishes you love with a few simple tweaks. Stir shredded cabbage or carrots into chili and meatloaf. Top off your pizza with mushrooms and onions. Sprinkle a cup of beans into your salad.
- Switch to whole grains. Trade in ultra-processed white bread and rice for their healthier versions. Order brown rice when you’re eating out. Make sandwiches with whole wheat wraps.
- Cook fast. Some cooking methods, like boiling, rob vegetables of fiber and important nutrients. Steaming or microwaving will let you enjoy all their goodness.
- Bake at home. You don’t even have to give up cookies and cake to make room for fiber. Rely on your own oven instead of supermarket brands so you can use ingredients like oats and whole wheat flour.
- Keep the peels. Stop wasting apple and potato skins. Many vegetables and fruits have edible peels and seeds packed with fiber.
- Snack smart. Use snacks as well as meals to help you reach your fiber goals. Dip raw vegetables into hummus. Create a trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
- Read labels. Manufacturers know that consumers are looking to eat more fiber. Check the label to see how many grams a product really contains. When an item says it’s an excellent source of fiber, it must contain at least 5 grams per serving.
The verdict is clear. Fiber can help you manage your weight now, and help protect you from heart conditions and other diseases as you age. If you want to reach your golden years with fewer health issues and higher functioning, eat more complex carbohydrates like vegetables, nuts, breads, and fruits.