High Fiber Foods for Healthy Aging
Facing the Inevitable
As we age, our bodies begin to deteriorate. No matter how well we take care of ourselves, we become slower, more fragile, and our mental capacity suffers. The good news, however, is that a diet rich in high fiber foods may help support brain and bone health-two of the most common concerns among elderly Americans.
Fiber and Brain Health
More than 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and every year more than 350,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States. While its affect on memory and personality are profound, Alzheimer's can also be deadly, resulting in approximately 60,000 die deaths yearly. By the middle of the twenty-first century more than 13 million U.S. citizens are expected to have this irreversible brain disorder, but a high fiber that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds may be effective in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer's as you age.
The Power of Fiber
Swedish scientists have established that people who effectively control their weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure can significantly decrease the risk of suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and that's where high fiber foods come in. In addition to regulating blood pressure, fiber helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising the protective HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
As a calorie-free weight loss tool, fiber helps manage hunger by stimulating the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that sends a message to your brain that you are full. It also promotes and prolongs the elevation of CCK in the blood, which makes you feel full for longer periods of time. high fiber foods also help normalize blood glucose levels by slowing down the time it takes food to leave the stomach and delaying the absorption of glucose (blood sugar) from a meal.
Finally, because it helps to block the absorption of calories consumed and lead those calories out of the body, fiber actually eliminates calories from the foods you eat. As a result, those who consume a high fiber diet tend to lose weight and more effectively manage a healthy body weight.
Fiber and Bone Health
Can high fiber diet foods keep your bones strong? When researchers turned their attention to the bone health of people taking part in the long-term Framingham Heart Study conducted in Massachusetts, they found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables also had the strongest bones as they aged. According to Associate Professor of Nutrition at Tufts University Katherine L. Tucker PhD, "this provides yet another reason to emphasize the intake of fruits and vegetables."
Although the healthy bone benefits of high fiber fruits and vegetables may be linked to the beneficial amounts of potassium and magnesium that they contain, researchers cannot rule out other factors, such as fiber, as an aid to bone strength. An important discovery in the study was that people who ate large amounts of processed foods (that are low in fiber and minerals) had weaker bones.
Eating a low-fiber diet also makes you more likely to be among the nearly 30 million Americans who suffer from osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease that often occurs in middle age. Osteoporosis can often lead to debilitating hip fractures, which in many cases cause disability and an overall deterioration of health.
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