Dietary fibre is a carbohydrate, also known as roughage or bulk. Fibre is commonly classified into two groups: Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water and insoluble fibre, which doesn’t, combined they are called total fibre. Fibre comes from plants, vegetables and grains, which the body can’t fully absorb or digest; it passes through your digestive system fairly intact. While fibre isn’t broken down and absorbed like other food components such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats, it has a very important role in maintaining health.
Insoluble Fibre adds bulk to stools and promotes the movement of material through your digestive system. It may help people who struggle with irregular stools or constipation. Many Vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, wheat bran and whole wheat, are great sources of insoluble fibre.
Soluble Fibre dissolves in water to form a gel material. It’s fantastic for relieving IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and preventing the symptoms in the first place. It can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels. Rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, carrots, barley, beans, peas, soy, apples and bananas contain sources of soluble fibre.
To receive the greatest health benefits of fibre, eat a wide variety of each, as the amount of each fibre type varies in different foods. Many studies suggest that eating a high intake of total fibre foods regularly, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, may help reduce the risk of many common diseases. Such as bowel cancer, heart disease and type two diabetes. A diet rich in whole grains may help maintain a healthy weight and a healthy digestive tract.
High fibre foods are great for your health. But adding too much fibre too quickly can cause intestinal gas, bloating and cramps. Increase fibre in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. Doing this can allow the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also drink plenty of water; fibre works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.
Choose whole foods, rather than refined or processed foods. Such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, pulp free juice, non-whole grain cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, as these have a lower fibre content. The refining process removes the outer layer of the grain, which removes most of the fibre content as well as some of the essential nutrients. Also removing skin from fruits and vegetables removes some of the fibre content.
Ways to get more fibre into your diet
- Start your day with a high fibre breakfast. Choose cereals with oats, bran or whole gains.
- Choose whole grains. Buy brown rice instead of white, this also applies to pasta. Choose whole wheat bread, as white bread and rice have had the fibre stripped out.
- Eat more beans, peas and legumes.
- Snack on, fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Add vegetables to every meal.
The benefits of a high fibre diet
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight.
- Helps to control blood sugar levels.
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Helps lower the risk of colon diseases.
- Regulate bowel movements.
- Helps lower the risk of type two diabetes and heart disease.