Science has found another great benefit of dietary fibre

Porridge Cafe in London. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The old saying about fibre keeping you regular is still true but Australian scientists have uncovered a new benefit.

Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research have found that eating the right amount of fibre from breads, cereals and fruits can help avoid disease and disability in old age.

Their findings are published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

The researchers explored the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and healthy ageing using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study of more than 1600 adults aged 50 years.

Out of all the factors they examined, it was the fibre that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed successful ageing.

This is defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke.

“Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fibre or total fibre actually had an almost 80% greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up,” according to lead author of the paper, associate professor Bamini Gopinath.

“That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression and functional disability.”

Although it is too early to use the study results as a basis for dietary advice, Gopinath says it’s opened up a new avenue for exploration.

This study backs similar findings highlighting the importance of diet and healthy ageing.

In a study published last year, at the Westmead Institute researchers found that adults who closely adhered to recommended national dietary guidelines reached old age with an absence of chronic diseases and disability.