Sure, you know fiber is good for you. But do you know just how good? The latest research shows it’s an anti-ager that can lengthen your life and turn back the clock on the most dreaded aging complaints, helping to keep your skin, your hair, and even your heart in optimal shape, year after year.
Where’s the proof?
A fiber-rich diet won’t only make you look and feel younger — new research in the Archives of Internal Medicine proves it actually helps you live longer. Overall, the women in the nine-year study who took in the most fiber were 22 percent less likely to die than those who took in the least. Specifically, the high-fiber eaters were up to 59 percent less likely to die from infections, heart disease, or respiratory illnesses.
In addition, research in The American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that your risk of dying from any cause drops 10 percent with each daily 10-gram increase in fiber intake. “When we don’t consume adequate fiber, our body cannot rid the toxins that build up,” which fiber helps wick out, explains dietician Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “Our bloodstream reabsorbs the toxins, leading to inflammation,” the root cause of most common age-related diseases — as well as a top contributor to wrinkles and damages hair follicles.
You may already know that many docs recommend supplementing with biotin, a hair-strengthening B-vitamin, if you have thinning hair. What’s less well known is that your body can create plenty of its own biotin if you take enough fiber to keep your gut’s microbiome in balance, so healthy flora can flourish.
“The good bacteria in your bowel need fiber to make vitamins like biotin, the hair vitamin,” confirms anti-aging expert Lorraine Maita, MD, author of Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier ($14.95, Amazon). Fiber can benefit your skin, too, she says, by fighting inflammation, which helps prevent (even reverse) everything from acne to rosacea to eczema to visible signs of aging (such as wrinkles and sagging skin). What’s more, “a lot of fiber-rich foods, like berries, have many nutrients and antioxidants in them that prevent wrinkling.”
How much is enough?
Most of us get far less than the recommended daily amount of 25 grams of fiber. Yet the latest research suggests getting more than 35 grams daily is best for reaping the anti-aging benefits. An easy way to reach that goal? Eat more fiber-filled foods, especially oat bran, bulgar, split peas, acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, avocado, raspberries, and figs.
Do supplements work?
Yes. Opt for psyllium or ground flax meal to get the most benefit, advises Dr. Maita. Even add it to your cereal. be sure to drink lots of fluids when taking a fiber supplement.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.