Aging Problems and Dietary Fiber Intake

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dr. Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM



Aging problems can be reflected in your skinAll humans feel the effects of aging. From the time they’re born to the instant they die, humans age. However, there are things that can be done to slow the aging process, relieve aging problems, and make the days people are given more enjoyable.

Consuming an adequate diet is something that has an affect on aging. An adequate and appropriate diet will help regulate blood sugar levels, control the effects of caffeine and sugar, and maintain good energy. All of these affect the speed of the aging process. An inadequate or inappropriate diet may lead to more problems with aging as years add up.

Diet and Aging Problems

Recent research conducted by Bamini Gopinath, Ph.D., and associates at Australia’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research looked at the connection between problems associated with aging, dietary glycemic index (GI), glycemic load (GL), carbohydrates, sugars, and fiber intake.

In addition to the well known effects of fiber, such as keeping bowel movements regular, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, and lowering blood pressure, this new research found an interesting benefit. Of all the factors examined, fiber intake made the most difference in what was called “successful aging.” The researchers defined successful aging as lack of disabling conditions, more adequate cognition, fewer depressive symptoms, absence of respiratory symptoms, and fewer chronic diseases ten years after the beginning of the research.

Fiber intake was the most important contributor to successful aging and avoidance of aging problems.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate the body can’t digest. According to Dr. Gopinath, “Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10 year follow up.” Those participants who were in this group with the highest intake of fiber were less likely to experience hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability.

Sugar intake was probably less significant due to the age of the subjects. Older adults typically consume fewer sugary drinks. Dr. Gopinath said this study was the first to examine any link between carbohydrates and healthy aging. The findings appear important enough to recommend more research. There has been other research with similar findings showing how important overall diet is to healthy aging and to avoiding problems related to aging.

Fiber’s role as an essential component of the detoxification process has already been shown. In our world, toxic substances are everywhere. They build up in the body and seriously impede its optimal functioning. Fiber is an excellent material to detox the body and restore its natural functions. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) perspective on how the body responds to stress, which addresses the body as a system, supports this use of fiber as a detox agent to bring balance back to the entire body system.

Adrenal Fatigue and Diet

When diet, nutrition, and adrenal fatigue are examined to determine any relationship, connections become apparent. In addition to stress, one of the factors leading to adrenal fatigue is metabolic nutritional problems. Adrenal fatigue, its causes, and methods to remedy it have been studied for years.

A good diet can help with aging problemsThis research, plus clinical experience, shows adrenal fatigue is suggested by a large number of non specific, but very limiting symptoms. These symptoms affect almost every adult to an extent. Some of the signs and symptoms that suggest adrenal fatigue are related to nutritional problems that can result from inadequate or inappropriate diet. Cravings for food high in salt, fat and protein may be indicators of this condition. Food allergies are another possible sign of adrenal fatigue.

Stress in one form or another seems to be the main culprit in adrenal fatigue. Some major sources of stressors are gluten intolerance, hypoglycemia, malabsorption, poor digestion, and exposure to toxins. All of these stressors are related to diet, and diet is related to aging problems.

As your body activates its natural response to stressors, it goes through three normal stages. The first is the alarm stage in which the body turns on certain chemical reactions to decrease stress. The second stage is resistance, in which your body works hard to defeat stressors. Should stress continue, as is more frequently the case in modern times, adrenal exhaustion occurs. People may experience imbalance in blood sugar levels, increase blood pressure, dizziness and lightheadedness, anxiety, and depression. In short, the body begins breaking down.

Perspectives on Addressing Stress and Aging Problems

Much of modern medicine looks at the stress response in terms of its effect on organs and not in terms of its effect on the entire body system. Viewing stress in this way may cause physicians to miss the opportunity to address problems related to aging as well as problems related to stressors. Many medical professionals give little thought to dietary components in addressing stress problems.

It’s important to get away from a small focus in dealing with the effects of stressors and focus on the NEM perspective, which involves multiple organ systems, pathways, and chemical reactions. These factors work in concert with each other to deal with stress. The relationship between cravings for sugar, one early sign of adrenal fatigue, typically isn’t considered a problem by conventional medicine. Central obesity often is considered only in terms of diet and not a metabolic indicator of significant problems. Food sensitivity usually is handled only as allergic response and not from an inflammatory stance.

The holistic approach, focusing on the NEM systems, considers nutritional factors not addressed by most conventional physicians. Thus, it takes the stance that diet, including fiber intake, is as important as any other factor in determining how the body reacts to stress. The research cited above helps make the case for adopting this NEM approach to adequately dealing with stress, diet, and aging problems.

 
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


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3 Comments

  • Wendy says:

    I can identify to a lesser degree – re Chronic/Adrenal Fatigue, although unfortunately both my adult children suffer almost all of these awful debilitating symptoms. This is an answer to prayer – finding Dr Lam online! Thank you!

  • Rajia Nash says:

    Thank you for your interesting article. I am sure fiber agrees with some people, however, I have IBS with constipation and insoluble fiber, in particular, really doesn’t help me at all. In fact, things like wholewheat really aggravate both IBS and constipation. Even insoluble fiber, like psyllium husk, works at first to ease constipation and then it doesn’t. I have tried everything, including a high fiber diet but the only thing that has helped was the information on this website, which I would like to share with you: https://www.gutsense.org/constipation/food.html

    I realize you are talking about fiber from an anti-aging perspective, so perhaps my comments are not really relevant but I just wanted to share this with you. Fiber is not good for everyone.

    • Stu says:

      I totally agree with you. I have been suffering from debilitating IBS for years which, along with other stressors, has lead to chronic fatigue syndrome – the biggest turn around I have had is following the FODMAP diet and also removing a large chunk of dietry fibre from both a lot of fruits, veg and grains. My health is night and day different.