As You Age

11 Health Benefits Of A High Fiber Diet

From AsYouAge

It might seem like fiber doesn't do much, but a high-fiber diet plays important roles in maintaining good health, especially as you age.  

A high-fiber diet helps prevent or treat many health conditions.

  1. 1.Coronary artery disease. High consumption of saturated fats is associated with coronary artery disease.  High fiber diets help lower heart disease.

  1. 2.High cholesterol levels. Fiber effectively lowers blood cholesterol levels. It appears that soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and moves it down the digestive tract so that it can be excreted from the body. This prevents the cholesterol from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

  1. 3.Constipation. A high-fiber diet is the preferred non-drug treatment for constipation. Fiber in the diet adds more bulk to the stools, making them softer and shortening the time foods stay in the digestive tract.

  1. 4.    Helps maintain bowel integrity and health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.

  1. 5.    Hemorrhoids. Fiber in the diet adds more bulk and softens the stool, thus, reducing painful hemorrhoidal symptoms.

  1. 6.Diabetes. People who are overweight tend to develop or worsen existing diabetic conditions due to decreased insulin sensitivity. Soluble fiber in the diet slows down the rise of blood sugar levels following a meal and helps control diabetes.

  1. 7.Cancer. Insoluble fiber in the diet speeds up the movement of the stools through the gastrointestinal tract. The faster food travels through the digestive tract, the less time there is for potential cancer-causing substances to work. Therefore, diets high in insoluble fiber help prevent the accumulation of toxic substances that cause cancer of the colon.

  1. 8.     Breast Cancer. High dietary consumption of fat is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Because fiber reduces fat absorption in the digestive tract, it also may prevent breast cancer.

  1. 9.Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  1. 10.  Aids In Weight Loss and helps fight obesity.  High fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register  when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat and you stay full for a greater amount of time.  Also,high fiber diets tend to be less “energy dense,” which means that they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

  1. 11.   Obesity.  High fat consumption often leads to excess caloric and fat intake, which increases body fat. Dietary fiber makes a person feel full faster, longer.

The New USDA Food Guide Pyramid Recommends

Daily Servings In Each Of The Six Categories

                •Grains:          6+   servings

                •Vegetables:   4-5  servings

                •Fruits:            2-4  servings

                •Meat:             2-3  servings

                •Dairy:             2-3  servings

                •Fats & Oils:    Use sparingly


How Much Daily Fiber Do You Need?

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Science recommends the following daily fiber requirements for adults:

                                        Women           Men

Age 50 and Under          25 grams         38 grams

Age 51 and Older           21 grams         30 grams   

Why Is Fiber So Good For Your Health?

Dietary fiber - found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes - is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation.  The Mayo Clinic also points out that a high fiber diet provides other health benefits as well, including lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates - which your body breaks down and absorbs - fiber isn’t digested by your body.  It passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.

Fiber is commonly classified into two categories:  those that don’t dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber).  It might seem like fiber doesn’t do much, but it has several important roles in maintaining health.

Dietary fiber, also called roughage or bulk, includes parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb.

Fiber-rich Vegetables

Fruits are full of fiber

Don’t Depend On Vitamin and Mineral Supplements to Make You Healthy. Focus on Eating Nutrient-Rich High-Fiber Foods

“People tend to become less active and to eat less as they age. This makes them vulnerable to getting too few nutrients,” according to Tufts University nutrition expert Alice H. Lichtenstein, ScD, and her colleagues.

"The basic message in the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults is that it is preferable to get essential nutrients from food rather than supplements," Lichtenstein, ScD, and colleagues from Tufts University.

Nevertheless, a little flag flying atop the pyramid signals seniors that supplements or fortified foods -- particularly those containing calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin B-12 -- may be helpful for many seniors, but not for all.

Below, at the bottom of the pyramid, are icons representing physical activities appropriate for healthy seniors.

Just above the activities comes a row of water glasses, stressing the importance of fluid intake for older people.

Above these rows, the different food groups portray healthy choices in forms -- such as packages of frozen vegetables -- easily accessible to seniors.

Dietary emphasis should be is on:

  1. Whole grains and a variety

  2. of grains

  3. A variety and nutrient-density

  4. of fruits and vegetables

  5. A low-fat and nonfat dairy

  6. foods, including dairy

  7. products low in lactose

  8. Oils low in saturated fats and

  9. lacking trans fats

• Low-fat & vegetable choices 

   in the meat-and beans

   food group

  1. Fiber-rich foods in all food

  2. groups

"It is important to communicate to older adults that eating should remain an enjoyable experience," Lichtenstein notes. "The guidance provided in the Modified MyPyramid can be used as a road map and should be adaptable so it can accommodate many different dietary preferences, patterns and lifestyles."

source: Daniel J DeNoon,

WebMD Health News

Read more about the Modified Food Pyramid For 70+ Adults from researchers at Tufts University, in conjunction with the USDA and National Institutes of Health.

70 And Beyond: What To Eat  Provides Free, Reliable Senior Information and Resources

The content on is provided as a courtesy for our site visitors. The information, resources, links, advertisements and other material on AsYouAge does not constitute a professional opinion or advice; nor does it constitute an endorsement of any organization or the information, products and/or services they may offer. AsYouAge reviews and updates its content regularly when new and relevant information is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional advice in any area: health, medical, legal, insurance, financial or any other area. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider, or caregiver, attorney, financial, insurance expert or other specialist prior to starting, dropping or changing your current program or have questions or concerns  regarding current or anticipated issues.


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As You Age

Benefits Of A High Fiber Diet As You Age

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