Fibre for Health
Eat more fibre, we’ve all heard it before. But do you know why fibre is good for you?
What is fibre? Fibre contains many beneficial nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. It is the part of the plant that your body cannot absorb or digest. Fibre includes vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. It is type of a carbohydrate that helps keep our digestive systems healthy and helps keep us regular. There are three different types of fibre which all have different functions and health benefits.
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like material as it passes through the small intestine. It helps to slow the emptying process in our stomachs, which helps you feel fuller for longer. It also helps to lower cholesterol and stabilise your blood glucose levels. Soluble fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes.
Insoluble fibre absorbs water to help soften the contents of our bowels and helps keep us regular. It also helps to keep us full and keep the bowel environment healthy. Insoluble fibre is found in wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat bran and the skin of fruit and vegetables.
Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine and instead proceeds to the large intestine where it can assist in the production of good bacteria and improves bowel health. Resistant starch is found in undercooked pasta, under ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potato and rice.
Why is fibre important? Dietary fibre is important for our digestive health, regular bowel movements and prevention of weight gain. Fibre also helps keep you fuller for longer, can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
- Helps control blood sugar levels: Foods high in dietary fibre have a lower glycemic index as they release glucose slowly into the blood, which can slow the absorption of sugar and can help prevent and control diabetes
- Normalises bowel movements: Dietary fibre increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, reducing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fibre may help to harden it because it absorbs water and adds bulk.
- Lowers cholesterol levels: Soluble fibre found in vegetables, beans, oats, flaxseed and legumes may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Studies also have shown that high fibre foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- Helps in achieving healthy weight: High fibre foods are more satisfying, so you’re likely to eat less and stay fuller for longer. High fibre foods tend to take longer to eat and have fewer calories for the same amount of food as they are more energy dense.
How much fibre should you have?
Ideally, we want to be aiming for at least 30 grams per day if you are a male and 25 grams per day for female. However most of us consume much less than that. On average we consume just 22.1g and 17.5g, respectively.
- Aim for at least 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Leave the skin on, as it contains much of the fibre. Fruit and vegetable juices contain little or no fibre.
- Choose wholegrain varieties of bread, cereals, rice and pasta. When baking, try substituting half of the white flour with wholemeal flour.
- High fibre breakfast options include oats, bran, wheat. Increase the fibre further by adding nuts, seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin) and fruit.
- Try adding chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils to soups and casseroles.
- Add kidney beans, baked beans or grated carrot to mince dishes for more fibre and to make the dish go further.
- Introduce FibreMax™, just one serve gives you 40% of your daily fibre intake.
- When buying foods, aim for those with more than 5g of fibre per serve on the food label
- If you are eating more fibre rich foods, drink more water than usual as fibre absorbs water in the body.