One of the best ways to know a food, supplement, or even a drug, for that matter, is effective is to measure its ability to reduce the risk of death in the long run. After all, we strive to maintain our health so that we may live long, full lives, right? Well, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included 452,717 participants (average age 50 years) and followed them for almost 13 years. Diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors were analyzed.

Those participants with the highest fiber intake (28.5 grams or more per day) had a 24 percent lower risk of death from any cause when compared to those with the lowest fiber intake (below 16.4 grams daily). Keep in mind, the daily average fiber intake in the United States is 10 to 15 grams. You can see we have a problem right? The researchers found a protective effect from fiber for a range of conditions related to the deaths—smoking-related cancers and circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and inflammatory diseases.

What does this tell you? Eat more fiber! I recommend 35 grams daily. Try to get a much fiber as you can from vegetables and fruits (and not just processed grains). Even with the healthiest diet, it can be difficult to eat 35 grams daily, so add a fiber supplement if you are having trouble reaching that goal.