Adding fibre to your daily diet is one of the best things you can do to get healthy, prevent disease and even control your weight.
Research Suggests that the typically low-fibre Western diet may be contributing to widespread illnesses such as coronary artery disease, diabetes and various diseases of the large instentine, including cancer. So, it’s vitally important to take action to ensure you’re informed and taking care of yourself.
Dietary fibre – or roughage – is essentially the indigestible component of plant foods, and its positive eefects have been know for centuries. It falls inti two broad categories, soluble and insoluble, and most plants contain both kinds, although some are richer in one category than the other.
Soluble fibre is found in plant matter that dissolves in water and becomes sticky, such as lentils, legumes, oat bran, oatmeal, barley annd pectin-rich fruit such as aaples, pears, strawberies and citrus fruit. Insoluble fibre does not disslove, and passes through the digestive tract largely unchanged. It’s found in wholegrain product such as brown rice, and fruit and vegetables like carrot, broccoli and peas.
How much is too much?
It’s great to up your fibre intake – but to do gradually, ssince a rapid fibre spike in your diet can lead to unpleasant sside effects ssuch as bloating and flatulence.
Consuming sudden large amounts of fibre can also provoke abdominal cramps or even a bowel obstrution, particularly among older or sedentary people who already have a sluggissh bowel function.
Most importantly, remember that it’s far better to consume fibre by eating real food, rather than pills. Supplements lack the fantastic nutrients and substance found naturally in high-fibre foods which provide most of the benefits. So eat up!
How does the fibre work its magic?
This may be an unappetising thought, but grasping how fibre works internally is vital. Ingested fibre acts as a in-house broom or sponge, absorbing many times its own weight in liquid as it passes through the digestive tract. The result is softer and bulkier stools that pass through the intestine more rapidly and are expelled more easily, loweringthe likehood of constipation.
This quick passage through the intestine also helps prevent related bowel disorders – such as diverticulosis and haemorrhoids – which can occur from the increased pressure created by hard stool. It can even help lower the risk of bowel cancer (from reduced contact of stools with cancer-causing agents in the intestine), coronary artery disease (via the lowering of blood cholestrol levels) and heart attacks due to atherosclerois (the build-up of fatty plaque in the ateries).
Some soluble fibres are even effective against diabetes, although insoluble fibres have little or no effect. Of course, upping fibre intake won’t cure diabetes, but a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates and fibre can certainly assist diabetics to better manage their blood sugar levels.
Trying to drop a few unwanted kilos? Adding fibre to your diet may be the beat move you ever make. Besides providing a welcome feeling of fullness, the best way to use fibre for weight loss is to maintain a balanced diet that includes modest amounts of protein and fat. The body metabolises these are more slowly than fibre, so you won’t get hungry again quite as quickly. Easy and healthy!
Good Dietary Sources
Most dietary fibre comes from wholegrain cereals, grain, fruit, vegetable, dried beans, nuts, seeds, peas, and other legumes. The outer layer of a grain, which contains the most fibre, is removed in the refining process. This is why wholegrain foods like brown rice and wholemeal bread are such great sources of fibre – and why over-processed white bread and rice aren’t!
Benefits of fibre
- Helps prevent constipation
- Useful to help control
- Helps reduce the risk of bowel cancer
- Relieves the symptoms of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis
- Soluble fibre plays a role in lowering elevated blood cholestrol levels.
What Has More Than 5 Grams Of Fibre?
- 1/2 cup of baked beans
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils
- 1/2 cup unprocessed bran
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 10 dates
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 pear
- 5 prunes
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup green peas
Easy Way To Eat More Roughage
According to Bowel Cancer Australia, the average person has just 10-12g of fibre daily, whereas we should be eating at least 30g. Here are some painless ways to easily increase your intake:
- Switch to wholegrain cereals and breads, wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
- Eat at least two fruit and five veg serving daily, leaving skins on when possible.
- Aim for 10g at breakfast, one of the best fibre opportunities of the day, by eating fibre-rich cereal, wholegrain toast and fresh or dried fruit.
- Snack on high-fibre fruit (pears, berries, apples) and dried fruit (prunes, apricots).
- Serve veggies raw or steamed, and choose high-fibre types like corn, peas, potatoes (with skin on), sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussels, sprouts and turnips.
- Experiment by cooking with bulgur or barley and other high-fibre grains.
- Add extra wheatgerm or bran to muffins, pancakes and cakes, or to breadcrumbs when creating a crispy coating for meat.
- Eat more legumes – try lentil soups, stews and casseroles.
- Lunch on beans. Eat one cup of baked beans (containing 9g of fibre) with one slice of wholemeal bread (another 3g), and you’re a third of the way to your recommended daily intake.
- Eat more salads with nuts, seeds or kidney beans added.