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Fiber isn’t the most glamorous of nutrients. Quite the contrary, actually. It’s best known for its role in less-than-palatable powdered beverages like Metamucil and its ability to keep you “regular.”
But don’t let its low-profile fool you. It can do some pretty fabulous things for your health.
You already know that it keeps your gut and bowel running smoothly, but it also balances your blood sugar, lowers your cholesterol and helps you lose weight.
These are all wonderful benefits, but fiber has one more trick up its sleeve… and it’s a big one. So big, in fact, that it will help you see it as the health superstar that it really is…
Fiber holds the key to successful aging
We all want to grow old without the burden of disability, depression, dementia, heart disease, stroke, cancer or other chronic disease… well, fiber can make this happen.
Australian researchers found that people with the greatest intake had close to an 80 percent higher chance of living a longer, healthier life than those who weren’t consuming as much.
Now, researchers looked at a lot of variables —carbohydrate intake, sugar intake, glycemic load and glycemic index — to see what actually made a difference when it comes to aging well.
Sugar intake didn’t have nearly the impact on aging that researchers expected, but fiber really stood out from the pack… which means researchers are going to continue delving into it’s role in the aging process.
So if your intake has been less than stellar in recent years, it’s time to make a change. There are a few tricks you can use to make sure you get enough in your diet without turning to the aforementioned orange powdery stuff…
- Eat a fiber-filled breakfast. This can kick-start your metabolism and set your bowels up for success. Some good breakfasts include oatmeal, brown rice breakfast cereal or granola filled with nuts and fruit.
- Add extra fiber whenever you can. You can add flax seeds to your smoothie, wheat germ to your pancakes and beans to your salads and soups. Pretty much whenever you’re making food, stop and ask yourself: How can I add more fiber?
- Eat different types of fiber. When it comes to eating fiber, variety is key. Both soluble and insoluble are good for your body in different ways, and they come from different types of foods. Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, beans, peas, soybeans, apples, banana, berries, certain vegetables and psyllium husk. Insoluble fiber is found in green beans, dark leafy vegetables, whole wheat products, fruit and root vegetable skins, seeds and nuts.
- Go whole grain. Always choose whole grain breads and pastas over their white counterparts. They’re much higher in fiber. Brown rice is more fiber-filled than white rice too.
So even though fiber doesn’t seem glamorous at first glance, it keeps you young… which is pretty much as glamorous as any food can get. One thing to note… when you’re eating a lot of fiber, make sure you drink a lot of water too. Fiber absorbs water, so if you eat a lot of it without drinking enough water it can cause a blockage in your intestines or even aggravate constipation.
And whatever you do, make sure you consume at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Some nutrition experts say you can even take up to a 50 grams per day for every 1,000 calories you eat. But the best idea is to test it out and see how much feels good to you.
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“Dietary fibre – what’s its role in a healthy diet?” The European Food Information Council. http://www.eufic.org. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
“Dietary Fiber Intake Tied to Successful Aging, Research Reveals.” The Gerontological Society of America. https://www.geron.org. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
“Getting Enough Fiber In Your Diet Does Not Have To Be Like This!” The University of Illinois at Chicago Wellness Center. https://wellnesscenter.uic.edu. Retrieved June 2, 2016.