How to Increase Your Longevity: Eat More Fibre

What’s the secret to a longer life? Studies show it could be the amount ?of fibre in your diet?

Credit: iStockphoto / tirc83

iStockphoto / tirc83

Fibre from whole grains is the most beneficial for your health

Fibre doesn’t immediately come to mind when we think of the fountain of youth. But a recent study shows that a diet high in fibre has tremendous potential for increasing longevity

Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute followed more than 300,000 adults (aged 50 to 71) for nine years. They found that those who ate the most fibre (29 grams per day for men and 26 for women) were 22 per cent less likely to die than those who ate lesser amounts.

Overall, a high intake of dietary fibre was associated with a reduction in disease and death. 

Sources of Fibre

Fibre can come from plant sources, fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and cereals.

Besides helping you feel fuller to assist in weight control, fibre can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve sugar metabolism and bind to toxins to help move them through the intestine and out of the body more quickly. Fibre also has anti-inflammatory properties.

To equal the amount of fibre shown to be beneficial in this study, as an example, you would need to consume in one day: 1/3 cup bran cereal, 1/2 cup cooked beans, 1 orange or 1 apple (with the skin), 1/2 cup mixed veggies and a handful of almonds.

Interestingly, the study also noted that fibre from whole grains, such as unrefined whole-kernel wheat, corn, rye, brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat and spelt, was the most beneficial. The researchers say it’s because the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of whole grains may offer the most disease prevention.

Health Benefits of Fibre

While the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer was noted to be lower with increased fibre intake, perhaps the most striking finding was the seemingly protective effect of fibre against infections and respiratory diseases. These conditions were reduced by up to 56 per cent in men and 59 per cent in women.

It could be that people who eat more fibre are healthier overall and therefore less likely to get heart and respiratory diseases. Even so, when the researchers controlled for initial health status and lifestyle factors, the findings still held.

More research needs to be done, but the results look impressive. Even better, it’s a simple strategy to try, not just to help us live longer, but for overall good health.

More Tips for Living Longer

What else helps further a quality lifespan? Exercise, a positive attitude and sufficient sleep have all been shown to play a role. In fact, a new review of several studies supports the notion that staying optimistic can help you live longer. Having that “glass-half-full” attitude can help decrease levels of stress hormone and keep the immune system healthy to ward off disease, which should add up to a longer, healthier life.

Overall, a high intake of dietary fibre was associated with a reduction in disease and death

Your Health with Dr. Rhonda Low airs weekdays during CTV News at Five and CTV News at Six.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.