Fiber is a Big Anti-Ager

Fiber is a big anti-ager

There’s a reason why the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has stuck around for decades. The fiber found in apples is essential for our health and longevity. So is the fiber found in celery, for example. Any complex carbohydrate contains the types of fiber—soluble and insoluble—that are absolutely necessary for the health of our digestive system. We need fiber for so many things. Which is why we’re going to delve into the many health benefits of eating a diet that’s rich in fibrous foods, as well as the reasons we should want to eat them in order to age gracefully.

What is fiber?

Fiber makes up the plant-based foods we eat.  It’s the plant’s roughage, to put it simply. And they’re not able to be digested. Seems weird that we would want to eat things that resist digestion, right? Well, there’s a lot of good that comes out of eating this plant roughage. As you might imagine, eating something that can’t be digested, something that comes out of the body easier than other types of foods, actually helps clean out the entire system.

Eating fiber helps us get rid of stuff that’s there in excess. Think excess hormones, excess cholesterol, excess toxins, and excess waste. This clearing out of toxins helps us prevent more serious diseases, if we do it on a daily basis. Digestive health is paramount to overall health. And ironically enough, eating the stuff that’s not digestible, actually takes our digestive health to soaring heights.  

3 green and red apples

How much fiber do you need?

Did you know that most Americans, those who typically eat the SAD (standard American diet), don’t get enough fiber in their diets to ward off the degenerative diseases of aging? This is a fact. The standard American diet contains around 15 grams of fiber per day, whereas we need much more than that to help prevent these diseases of aging. If you’re wondering what those diseases are, they include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Colon cancer
  • High blood sugar
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulosis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Acid reflux
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease

The amount of fiber necessary for health falls somewhere around 25 grams per day for women eating a 2500 calorie diet, and 38 grams of fiber per day for men eating a 3800 calorie diet. Obviously, you’ll eat more or less depending upon how many calories you consume in a given day. But, generally speaking, you want to aim for around 14 grams of fiber for every thousand calories taken in. Some days you’ll eat more, and some days less. But, this is a good general guideline to keep in mind as you choose the foods you’re eating each day. When you begin adding more fiber to your diet, do it slowly, so as not to produce more gas and discomfort than you want to experience.  

What’s the difference between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber?

There are two kinds of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps slow the digestive process by bringing water into our bowels. Examples of foods containing soluble fiber include: oats, psyllium, barley, oranges, apples, pears, berries, carrots, broccoli, peas, lentils, and chia seeds. Soluble fiber is what’s responsible for gas. And gas isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an integral part of colon health. Soluble fiber lowers bad cholesterol, making it an essential type of fiber for heart health. It also helps stools soften, so that you’re not having painful bowel movements all the time. 

Insoluble fiber acts more like a laxative than soluble fiber does. Because it doesn’t absorb water or dissolve in water as soluble fiber does, it’s necessary for our bowel movements as it is part and parcel of fecal mass. Again, not a sexy subject, but altogether necessary for our health. 

Why do we need fiber?

  • Fiber keeps the bowels movin’ and groovin’. 

Bowel movements should happen every day, sometimes more than once. On average, you should have a bowel movement once or twice a day, typically in the morning upon walking. In order to have regular bowel movements, we need to eat plenty of fiber. You can think of fiber as a laxative, and a natural one at that. It’s gentle on the system and oh-so essential for keeping us light and lean. Who wants to be constipated? Not me! Which is why I’m going to get an apple out of my bicycle pannier as we speak! 

  • Fiber keeps us lean and flattens our bellies

Imagine how fiber is essential for elimination and you can imagine how it helps us let go of belly fat. Fiber also balances blood sugar levels, which is key to maintaining a flat tummy. 

  • Fiber helps us lose weight

Eating foods rich in fiber satiates us. We feel full, and don’t have the need to eat and eat and eat like we do when our diet’s full of simple carbs. Simple carbs are white breads and white pastas, as well as anything that’s processed like cookies, cakes, chips, and crackers. Fibrous foods on the other hand—think fruits and veggies, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains—keep our bodies lean and mean as we eat them. 

Fiber supplements

I always say the best way to get your nutrients is via whole foods. However, you may need a supplement to jumpstart digestive health, especially if you’ve been eating the SAD diet for years. This is where supplementation might come into play. When seeking out a good fiber supplement, look for psyllium husk, which you can add to your morning smoothie or breakfast oatmeal. 

Water, water water

Don’t forget to stay properly hydrated as you add more fiber to your diet. Constipation is linked to not drinking enough water. And healthy bowel movements need the right amount of water just as much as they need the right amount of fiber. 

man pouring water in glass


Best high-fiber foods

To ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet each day, you might want to start focusing your diet on the foods with the highest fiber content. We’ll go through the various food groups—grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts and seeds—and list the foods within each category with the highest amount of fiber. 


  • Oats

There’s nothing like starting your day with a high-fiber grain. The most common one that comes to mind are rolled oats. They’re simple, cheap, and high in fiber content. Oatmeal is a great breakfast, especially in the fall and winter. One cup of oats contains 16 grams of fiber. When you add in nuts, seeds, and berries, you’re getting that much more. 

  • Buckwheat

One cup of buckwheat contains 17 grams of fiber. I like to make buckwheat pancakes, by simply grounding buckwheat, mixing it with water until I get a desired consistency, then heating some coconut oil in a skillet and cooking the buckwheat into pancakes. Top with butter, pure maple syrup, and cinnamon, and you’ve got a real treat. 

  • Quinoa

This South American staple doesn’t have as much fiber—4 grams per cup—but it’s still worth noting. Four grams is four grams, which is much better than foods without any fiber. I like to make quinoa salads during the spring and summer. They’re light, and also a good vegetarian source of protein. 

  • Barley

Barley isn’t the most popular grain these days, but it should be. One cup feeds the body 6 grams of fiber, and it’s great if you like making grain bowls for lunch or dinner. Barley does contain gluten, however, so if you’re sensitive to gluten, you’ll want to leave this grain out. 


  • Avocado

Avocados aren’t just a source of healthy fat, they’re also a source of healthy fiber. And, they’ve got a lot of it. One avocado has 13.5 grams of fiber. I encourage you to add them to your diet as often as possible. Make homemade guacamole, mash one on toasted whole-grain bread, and add sliced avocado to salads and even smoothies. The possibilities are endless with this tropical fruit. 

  • Apples

Apples are just so good for you. They’re a great snack with a little nut butter, or trail mix. Sometimes, I’ll have a couple apples for lunch—sliced and slathered with almond butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. Apples contain 4 grams of fiber. What’s more, they’re an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as potassium and calcium. 

  • Prunes

There’s a reason people eat prunes to cure constipation. Prunes contain loads of fiber—just a few small prunes give you 2 grams of fiber. If you need some help staying regular, I encourage you to eat a few prunes each day as a healthy snack.

  • Pears

Like apples, pears are great for their vitamin C and fiber content. One medium-sized pear feeds the body 5 grams of fiber—not bad for a single piece of fruit. They’re also great for keeping us healthy and immune to viruses, as they support immune function with their antioxidant powers. 

  • Berries

Berries are probably my favorite fruit—especially blueberries. They’re full of free radical fighting antioxidants, and also loads of fiber. Just 1 cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of fiber, while the equivalent amount of raspberries and blackberries feeds us a whopping 8 grams. Because of the polyphenols in berries, they also help us manage our weight. What’s not to love about berries?!

  • Bananas

Bananas are so easy. All you do is peel and enjoy. Plus, they contain fiber—3 grams worth. So enjoy potassium-rich bananas as much as you like. They’re sweet and good for you. 


It goes without saying that all vegetables are full of fiber. But, here are some of the best:

  • Broccoli

Your mother was right when she made you eat your broccoli. Broccoli gives us 5 grams of fiber per cup. It also has sulfur, a mineral that supports the metabolization of food. I love roasting broccoli with garlic, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. It’s the perfect side dish to any meal. 

  • Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a staple in my household. We typically bake them in the oven, then indulge them with butter and sea salt. But, coconut oil is a great substitute for butter. As is olive oil. Sweet potatoes contain 6 grams of fiber per potato. But, make sure you eat the skin, where most of the fiber lies. These sweet, starchy treats have both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them a superfood for digestive health. 

  • Artichokes

Bet you didn’t know that artichokes have the highest fiber content of all the veggies here. They’re not the most popular veggie for most people, unless you live in Rome. But, we should eat more of them, as they contain 7 grams of fiber per artichoke. 

close-up photography of green and purple vegetables


  • Kale

Kale is something I eat at least a few times a week. It’s a vitamin-rich leafy green that contains vitamin C, K, A, and 3 grams of fiber per 2 cups. Kale is great raw, sauteed, and roasted into kale chips. Add a handful to a smoothie if that’s what you like. The possibilities to ensure you’re eating enough of this superfood are endless. 

Beans and legumes

  • Lentils

Lentils are incredibly rich in fiber, as well as protein. The fiber in lentils is great for your gut, as much of it comes from prebiotic, soluble fiber. I have a favorite lentil salad I make during the summer, and a soup in the fall and winter. Lentils are versatile and tasty!

  • Garbanzo beans

Hummus is one of my favorite foods, and there are so many creative ways to eat it. Made from garbanzo beans, which contain 10 grams of fiber per cup, hummus is a real treat.

  • Split peas

I don’t eat enough split peas. But, I’m going to start. Because they contain 16 grams of fiber per cup. Split pea soup is a great recipe for starters. 

  • Lima beans

How many of us eat lima beans? I know I don’t. But, these beans have 14 grams of fiber per cup, as well as high amounts of protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Nuts and seeds

  • Chia seeds

Chia seeds are great additions to smoothies. They’re also a true superfood, containing 4.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Smoothie bowls with chia seeds thicken them up, and they’re great in a dessert-like chia seed pudding. 

  • Sunflower seeds

One cup of sunflower seeds gives the body 12 grams of fiber, as well as good amounts of magnesium and zinc. Add these seeds to trail mix, salads, or just eat them plain. 

  • Almonds

Almonds are every one’s favorite nut. And for good reason. They contain 4 grams of fiber per ounce, and 6 grams of protein. I add them to a homemade trail mix, or enjoy them for dessert with sliced apples and cheese.