HealthDay News — A diet inclusive of foods rich in fiber may fuel more successful aging, according to research published in The Journals of Gerontology.

The researchers tracked 1,609 participants, 49 years and older, for a decade starting in 1994. At the start, all were free of cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke. Successful aging status at follow-up was defined as the absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases such as cancer and coronary artery disease. Surveys assessed dietary routines, with a specific focus on fiber, carbohydrates, and sugar intake.

The team found that only 25% of study participants were meeting daily fiber intake recommendations, and 15.5% of the participants had aged successfully over the 10-year time frame. Those with below-average levels of fiber consumption were least likely to have aged well. The top fiber consumers were found to be 79% more likely to remain fully functional and disease-free as they aged.

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“Our observations need to be confirmed by other large studies, and we can’t make recommendations at this stage such as pushing for a more plant-based diet,” lead author Bamini Gopinath, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research, told HealthDay.

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Gopinath B, Flood VM, Kifley A, et al. Association between carbohydrate nutrition and successful aging over 10 years. J Gerentol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw091.