Most of us know that getting plenty of fibre can help keep our digestive system in good working order. But fibre has many more health benefits and could be key to staying youthful longer.

In a recent study, older people who ate fibre-rich diets were 80 per cent more likely to live longer and stay healthier than those who didn’t.

“You need to get 25 to 30 grams of dietary fibre a day, and most people don’t get that much,” said Patricia Calvo, Consumer Reports health editor.

By eating foods like beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains, fibre can work its anti-aging magic.

“Fibre helps your health in so many ways. It can protect against type-2 diabetes. It helps to lower cholesterol levels. It helps in weight control because it makes you feel full. And, of course, it helps your digestive system run smoothly,” explained Calvo.

And if you’re worried about gas or bloating from eating more fibre, be sure to take it easy at first. You shouldn’t go from very little fibre to a lot all at once. Instead, take small steps, eating just a couple of things a day.

For example, you can combine regular cereal and high-fibre cereal. Or have an apple or a handful of nuts instead of chips as a snack. Or you can add oatmeal to your smoothie.

There are a lot of small ways to increase your fibre intake.

So up your fibre intake gradually, spread it across meals, and be sure to drink more water simultaneously. Without enough water, fibre can actually be constipating.