| LINDSEY WILSON
Fiber: The Key to Healthy Aging
Have you ever wished you could stop time? Or, at the very least, have you wished that time would slow down?
We all want more of what we can't have, and above all things, time is arguably the most coveted thing. More time on vacation, more time to finish a task, more time with friends and loved ones. We'd wager that most people who want to mess with time are also harboring an aversion to getting older - and all that comes with it.
While we can't stop the clock, or turn it back, we can work with our bodies regarding the way it responds to the passing of time. We can prepare it for the inevitable changes life has in store for all of us and, when we're committed to it, cultivate a fairly active life well into our senior years.
Normal Aging Processes
Changes happen in your body as you age - it doesn't stop once you emerge on the other side of puberty. Your 30 year old body is not the same as your 25 year old body. And your 35 year old body is most certainly NOT your 30 year old body.
Factors that influence these changes:
- Smoking, alcohol, substance use
- Support from friends/family
Nutrition is at the top of our list because it is one of the most crucial aspects of your lifestyle that influences how you age. Proper nutrition with a diet high in fiber can decrease your risk of chronic disease, sarcopenia (muscle loss), osteoporosis, malnutrition, and weight issues - all of which lower your quality of life as you age1.
Studies show when individuals consumed more fiber, their chances of a longer, healthier life increased by 80% compared to those who have a low-fiber diet. Health issues that can occur if you don't have enough fiber in your diet as you age include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Dementia depression
- Functional disabilities
An Aging Digestive System
Your digestive system is ever-changing and evolves as you grow. It can move in a healthy direction that keeps you active and enjoying life, or to constant digestive upset and chronic illness. As you age, different occurrences can cause the muscles of your GI tract to weaken, leading to a slow down of movement. In other words, constipation. These weak muscles can also lead to the development of a condition called diverticular disease. It’s a common condition among the elderly and causes small pouches to form along the colon wall. They can become infected or inflamed. This leads to bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Diverticular disease is in fact very common, affecting at least 10% of people over the age of 40, and 50% of people over the age of 60.
One study showed that a diet high in fiber can help prevent diverticular disease2. Fiber also helps support good cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of stroke or heart disease.
Why Is Fiber So Effective?
Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant foods that resist digestion that help form a soft and bulky type of stool that passes easily. Fiber is what feeds gut microbes, and promotes diversity in your gut microbiome. Diversity in your gut is important to the function of your immune system and other critical activities within your body.
Types of Fiber and How They Work
Soluble fiber - dissolves in water, adds bulk to your stool, and helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels3
Insoluble fiber - does not dissolve as easily and keeps your digestive system moving to prevent constipation.
Fermentable fiber - can be both soluble and insoluble, and helps feed and increase the healthy bacteria in your colon.
You need all types of fiber for a properly functioning digestive system, and to reap all the health benefits associated with fiber. Some of those benefits include:
- Protection against diabetes - because soluble fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates into your system, your blood sugar levels rise slow enough to allow your pancreas the time it needs to produce insulin
- Protection against chronic inflammation - insoluble fiber helps reduce inflammation4.
- Decrease risk of inflammatory diseases - chronic inflammation can lead to a decline in mental health and mental health diseases, autoimmune disease, and possibly arthritis. Since fiber lowers inflammation, it has a hand in improving your overall health.
The Easiest Way to Add Fiber to Your Diet
Men and women need between 38 and 25 grams of fiber per day, respectively. The scary truth is, most adults only consume about 15 grams of fiber on average. The number one rule for increasing the amount of fiber in your diet: get a vast variety of whole plant foods each day.
A good set of guidelines to follow: half a plate of plants, a quarter of whole grains, with the remaining quarter should be healthy fats and protein. Some of our suggestions for good fiber sources include5:
- Artichoke, cooked, 1 cup - 10 grams of fiber
- Raspberries, 1 cup - 8 grams of fiber
- Lentils, cooked, ½ cup- 8 grams of fiber
- Brussels sprouts, cooked, 1 cup - 6.4 grams of fiber
- Quinoa, cooked, ½ cup - 5 grams of fiber
- Apple, 1 medium - 5 grams of fiber
- Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup - 5 grams of fiber
- Oats, uncooked, ½ cup - 4 grams of fiber
Avoid processed food which tends to be high in calories, sugars, salts, saturated fats, but extremely low in fiber and crucial vitamins and minerals.
We strongly suggest giving your digestive system a well-deserved break every now and then. The OWL Reset Cleanse is designed not only to allow your digestive system time to heal, it also soothes your gut and repairs the lining of your digestive tract. The OWL Reset is easy on the gut but heavy on the nutrients, so you feel full, nourished, and refreshed during and after the cleanse. This is one very impactful gift you can give your body as it moves through the years.
Eat More Fiber
You have nothing to lose from increasing your fiber intake. The health benefits are numerous, and the prospect of a healthy, active life in your golden years is on the horizon. Your future self will thank you for the steps you take today to care for every version of you and your body.
Nutritional Considerations for Healthy Aging and Reduction in Age-Related Chronic Disease (nih.gov)
Therapeutic effects of soluble dietary fiber consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus (nih.gov)
Association between dietary fiber and markers of systemic inflammation in the Women’s Heath Initiative Observational Study (nih.gov)
Food Sources of Dietary Fiber | Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing