When most people think fiber, visions of prune juice and unappetizing powder packets may spring to mind. Plus, this compound also has a rather unfortunate association: bowel movements. However, though it may initially bring these unsavory thoughts to mind, fiber is actually an important part of any diet that, in addition to maintaining your digestive system, may even expand your lifespan.

How? Primarily be reducing the risk of developing certain widespread and potentially deadly diseases. From a digestive standpoint, consuming a healthy dose of fiber – namely 14 grams per 1,000 grams of food, according to the Institute of Medicine – can facilitate the digestive process  prevent carcinogens in human waste from infecting the intestinal tract, the Cancer Project reports.

But, that is only the beginning of fiber's impressive health benefits. Last year, HealthDay featured a study from the National Cancer Institute that shed light on its effects on longevity. Researchers from the organization reportedly gathered the health information of 388,122 men and women who took part in a National Health Institutes – AARP Diet and Health Study. Each participant took a survey that required them to describe their nutritional habits.

After checking back in with the participants nine years later, the scientists found that their overall fiber intake, which spanned from 13 grams to 29 grams for male participants and 11 to 16 grams for females, acted as a substantial indicator of their long-term health. Most notably, the researchers concluded that people who ate healthy amounts of fiber regularly had a lower chance of developing heart disease, and were 22 percent less likely to have passed away during the designated time period.

One of the primary benefits of fiber is that it helps flush out harmful toxins before they wreak havoc in your system. To supplement this process, consider consulting an anti-aging doctor at Longevity Centres about detox procedures like IV chelation.