Diet is one of the most important components of dieting. Without you even knowing, fibre is needed by the body for many basic functions. Dietary fibre promotes a stronger immune system, controls blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, maintains good bowel health, fights inflammation and even fights off viruses and diseases.
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Fibre can be found in many different foods. Fibre has become so important towards everyday health that many health brands and stores will sell fibre supplements to help people reach their daily intake requirement.
The recommended daily intake of fibre for people are as follow:
- Men under 50:38 grams
- Men over 50: 30 grams
- Women under 50: 25 grams
- Women over 50: 21 grams
What is Fibre
Dietary fibre is a part of plant foods that can be consumed by humans. Unlike protein and carbohydrates and fat, the body is not able to break down or digest fibre. Instead, it passes through your stomach, small intestine and colon, and remains intact before your body eventually removes it as waste.
The two categories of dietary fibre are soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. It is important to have both types in your diet.
- Soluble fibre – Some sources of soluble fibre include fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, peas, seed husks, beans, flaxseed, lentils, soy milk, and barley. This is the fibre that is most associated with improving constipation and bowel irritability. Soluble fibre also has an important role in helping lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- Insoluble fibre – This type of fibre has the important role of adding bulk to faeces and prevent constipation. Insoluble fibre also helps with the prevention of haemorrhoids. Sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, nuts, seeds, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain wheat and dried beans.
Foods That Contain Fibre
Please note that foods that are processed or heavily processed usually have lower fibre content. This is because natural dietary fibre is lost during the grain refining stages of production.
- Whole-grain bread
- Leafy vegetables
- Kidney Beans
- Nuts and Seeds
- Brussel sprouts
Health Benefits of Fibre
- Fibre Promotes and maintains a healthier digestive tract. One of the main advantages of a high fibre diet over a low fibre diet is that it maintains the health of the digestive system and may even improve it. The digestive system starts with the muscles that break food down along the tract from the moment food is swallowed until it eventually passes through the body and is removed through the bowel in the form of waste. This process is called peristalsis as fibre is relatively indigestible. It adds bulk to the faeces and prevents constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- All-Natural Detox. Fibre will naturally promote and assist in the elimination of toxins from your G.I. tract. Soluble fibre works like a sponge by soaking up harmful compounds, such as bad fat and excess estrogen before the body can absorb them. Insoluble fibre makes the digestive tract move faster, giving toxic compounds and toxins a lesser chance from being absorbed by the body. This not only cleanse your body and help you detox but also prevents you from getting any viruses or health complications.
- Helps maintain bowel health. Dietary fibre will help to maintain the integrity and health of the bowel. High fibre diet may help lower the risk of developing haemorrhoids and diverticular disease. This is when your colon forms small pouches. Multiple studies have discovered that a high fibre diet can also lower the risk of colorectal cancer. This is cancer that develops from the lower end of the digestive tract.
- Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran is known to help lower blood cholesterol levels. By lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, soluble fibre has become a popular and important nutrient amongst people with high cholesterol levels. High-fibre foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation. This may help lower the risk of suffering a stroke and improve overall heart health.
- Helps control blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre to be specific will help to slow down the absorption of sugar. This assists the body in maintaining and improving blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fibre may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of Low Fibre Diets
- Constipation – Constipation is probably the most common symptom in low fibre diets. Without a sufficient amount of fibre, the faecal matter becomes hard and dry, making it difficult to pass through the body and the body to remove.
- Irritable bowel syndrome – pain, flatulence and bloating of the abdomen. This is when your abdominal area begins to feel pain, bloating and/or flatulence. This is most often likely the result of a poor diet or eating foods that your stomach is not used to or cannot easily digest.
- Haemorrhoids – varicose veins of the anus appear if the person is sitting on the toilet for too long. This usually happens due to constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Diverticulitis – This is when the body develops small hernias of the digestive tract. This is the result of long-term constipation.
- Obesity and excess weight – Your body will increase in weight without fibre. Fibre promotes the digestive system to work more efficiently and effectively, and so your body will digest food faster and get rid of waste. Without fibre, it will just stay in your body and cause you to gain weight.
How to Add More Fibre in Your Diet
- Have breakfast meals that are high in fibre. This means eating cereals that contain fibre, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal. By getting enough fibre in the morning, this puts less pressure on you to eat fibre-rich foods throughout the day.
- Try putting vegetables or fruits in every meal. By eating leafy vegetables or fruits with all your meals, you are supplementing dietary fibre along with all the other nutrients your body needs. This also improves your ‘body’s ability to digest and process all your meals.
- Consume fibre supplements when needed. If for whatever reason, you struggle to reach your recommended fibre intake, try fibre supplements. They won’t give you the extra calories you get in meals and are quick and convenient. Fibre supplements usually come in capsule or liquid form.
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