Confused about fibre? You’re not alone. Not to worry, we’ve got the low-down for you here. We scoured our sources for nutrition and health information and pulled together some great information here for you.
Fibre is one of those nutritional items that many of us know is important but remains a bit of a mystery. What is it? Where to you get it? What are the benefits?
Fibre is present in all food plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. The most common way to categorise fibre is by how easily it dissolves in water—either soluble or insoluble—you’ve probably heard these terms before. But you don’t have to worry so much about the categories…Bottom line is ALL dietary fibre is good for you.
The Dietitians Association of Australia recommends that children and adults consume at least 30 grams of dietary fibre. The more calories you eat in a day, the more fibre you need. So teens and men may need upwards of 35-40 grams per day. Yet, most
Australian’s only get about half that each day.
Why Fibre? What are the benefits?
Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. Eating a higher-fibre diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve and prevent constipation, and slow digestion. It also appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and diverticular disease.
Not only that, but increasing your daily fibre intake has been shown to reduce calorie intake, helping us to lose weight. Fibre makes us feel more full and feel fuller for longer. Some studies also show that it can help regular blood glucose and insulin.
What else can fibre do?
Here’s a topic we don’t usually like to discuss—constipation. Well, let’s talk about it now. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in Australia, with women and the elderly more commonly affected. It can be uncomfortable, the symptoms can include pain and a swollen abdomen or abdominal pain. In a nutshell, this is toxic waste getting backed up in your system.
The good news is that fibre seems to relieve and prevent constipation. The fibre in wheat bran and oat bran seem to be most effective for combating constipation. Experts recommend that you gradually increase your fibre intake rather than suddenly to avoid uncomfortable side-effects, like gas. As you increase your fibre intake, be sure to increase the amount of water you drink, since fibre absorbs water.
Eating a higher-fibre diet can play a role in a healthy BMI. One study found that women who ate more whole grains and total fibre consistently gained less weight over 12 years than those who ate less.
A high-fibre diet may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Studies have shown that doubling fibre intake by making wiser food choices, could lower the risk of colon cancer by 40%.
Fibre may also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who ate a diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in cereal fibre (whole grains) were more likely to increase their risk of type 2 diabetes. It may not just be all about the fibre on this one, because higher-fibre foods are also nutrient-rich foods which can add to the disease-fighting benefits.
Where can you get good fibre?
Soluble fibre (dissolves in water) comes from: beans (has both types of fibre), oatmeal and oat bran, some fruits (apples, mangoes, plums, kiwi, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, citrus fruits, dried apricots, prunes, and figs), and some vegetables (dried peas, beans, and lentils). Soluble fibre helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestines and is also thought to minimize the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal (which is particularly helpful for people with diabetes).
Insoluble fibre (doesn’t dissolve in water) is found in: whole-wheat grain and wheat bran, brown rice, bulgur, seeds, and vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes). It helps keep bowel movements regular, and may reduce the risk of colon problems. It may also reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and obesity (by making us feel fuller).
As far as how much total fibre you need, the recommendation is 30-35 grams. Don’t worry about measuring out specific amounts for the types of fibre. All dietary fibre is good for you. Just get more of it!
Quick Tips for ways to work in more fibre coming soon….