Most people know that a diet high in fibre helps to keep us ‘regular’. Now Australian researchers have uncovered a surprising benefit of this often-undervalued dietary component.
A recent paper published in The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences by scientists from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research found that eating the right amount of fibre from breads, cereals and fruits can help us avoid disease and disability into our old age.
Using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study which examined a cohort of more than 1 600 adults aged 50 years and older for long-term sensory loss risk factors and systemic diseases, the researchers explored the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and healthy ageing.
Surprisingly, they found that, out of all the factors they examined – which included a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fibre intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake – it was the fibre that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed ‘successful ageing’.
Successful ageing was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
According to lead author of the paper, Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath from the Institute’s Centre for Vision Research, the study is the first to look at the relationship between carbohydrate intake and healthy ageing, and the results were significant enough to warrant further investigation.
“Out of all the variables that we looked at, fibre intake– which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest – had the strongest influence.