Eating a fiber-filled diet doesn’t have to mean noshing on bran muffins and drinking prune juice. Avocados, raspberries, artichokes, lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas are all high in fiber and can help you hit the recommended intake of at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and at least 30 grams per day for men. Plus, new research shows it could add years to your life.
WHY SCIENCE SAYS YOU SHOULD EAT MORE FIBER
A 2019 meta-analysis published in The Lancet reviewed data from 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials and found a high-fiber diet was associated with up to a 30% decrease in all-cause mortality (or the chance of dying from any cause during the study period). Consuming between 25–29 grams of fiber per day was also linked with a lower risk of diseases such as colorectal cancer, heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes; each additional 8 grams of dietary fiber was found to reduce the risk of those illnesses up to 27%.
Additional research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported similar results with reductions in all-cause mortality ranging from 9 percent to 43%; the greatest risk reduction appeared to be associated with fiber from grains.
ADDITIONAL HEALTHY BENEFITS
Fiber acts as both a broom and a sponge, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD: “It sweeps out the intestinal tract to remove waste and soaks up excess cholesterol, which could be the reason it’s associated with longevity.”
The nutrient is also a prebiotic that builds healthy bacteria in the gut and slows digestion, helping you feel full longer, (which can help with weight control), according to dietician Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of “The 2-Day Diabetes Diet.” Having a healthy gut can also have an impact on mood, she adds.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Try adding fiber-rich foods to your diet such as avocado toast and lentil soup. Palinski-Wade advises doing so slowly since it takes the body time to adjust and you could feel bloated or have an upset stomach if you eat too much too quickly. “Little changes such as adding chia seeds to your morning smoothie will add up fast,” she says. Make sure you stay hydrated as well since water helps fiber move through your system, notes Blatner.