In our modern society, where convenience often trumps nutrition, fibre consumption has gradually declined, posing significant health challenges. With the rise of processed and fast foods, many of which are low in fibre and high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and fats, people are consuming less fibre than ever before. Additionally, the shift towards a more sedentary lifestyle further exacerbates this issue, as physical inactivity can contribute to sluggish digestion and reduced bowel movements. As a result, inadequate fibre intake has become a widespread problem, leading to issues like constipation, poor gut health, and increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions and also contributing to high cholesterol. It's essential to recognise the importance of fibre in our diets and take proactive steps to incorporate fibre-rich foods into our daily meals for better overall health and well-being.
In this article, I will cover, what is dietary fibre, why is it so important for you and what are the best sources for it.
What is fibre?
It's a carbohydrate that we as humans can't digest as we lack the enzymes to break it down within the body. This is the reason, why it fills you up and also helps to control your hunger.
On a high level, fibre comes in two different forms: soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre forms a gel when mixed with liquid, insoluble fibre passes through our intestines almost intact.
Best fibres to consume
Different fibres work different for different people. If you are someone who has not put focus on this area before, you might want to test out different fibres to find out which ones works the best for you. For some people fibres can cause constipation- it's important to choose then more gentle fibres. Also, it's important to start slowly adding more fibre to your diet, if you have not been very good at consuming it in the past, as you want to avoid excessive gas and bloating. Pectin fibres from fruit, chia seeds, flax seeds are good options as they are easier on your body. On top of consuming fibre, it's necessary to note that you also need to consume adequate amount of water on a daily basis to stay hydrated and have the fibre working better for you.
These foods include both soluble and insoluble fibre or just soluble fibre:
Banana (greener is better)
These foods include only the insoluble fibre:
Berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries etc.)
Apples and pears with skin
Why is fibre important for you?
Fibre is important for detoxification, because it binds to the bile acids that carry toxins out of your body and help to eliminate via the stool. If you are not getting enough fibre from your food, it can lead to mild constipation and also toxins reabsorption in the body.
Lower total and LDL cholesterol
It's important to consume both soluble and insoluble fibres as soluble fibre prolongs stomach emptying time for sugar to be released and absorbed slowly. Soluble fibre also lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and promotes friendly gut bacteria. Therefore it's great for heart health. Insoluble fibre helps with regular bowel movement, moves toxic waste through colon quicker and balances the acidity (pH) level in your colon.
Fibre is great for weight loss as well as women who eat a high-fibre diet may be at a lower risk for developing ovarian cancer.
Food for your gut microbes
Fibre is food for your gut microbiota- if you starve them from fibre, they start to eat away the mucus lining in your gut. If your daily diet is high in fibre from vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, you are feeding your gut with prebiotics and probiotics and therefore help to keep your microbiome balanced.
For digestion and motility
Fibre is an important nutrient to consume on a daily basis to help move food through your intestines, to improve digestive health and protect against diseases.
For blood sugar control
Fibre helps to slow down absorption of sugar from carbohydrates, which is important for stabilising blood sugar.
It's recommended that men consume minimum of 35 grams of fibre and women 25 grams of fibre a day. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with a bowel disease like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then it's best to talk to your health care provider to learn about the safe amount for you.
I came across this web page with great recipes for 5 days of eating a fibre-fuelled diet, which are from gastroenterologist Dr. Will Bulsiewicz's book "Fiber Fueled". Hopefully you get some ideas or recipes to try out at home. You can also search on my website for salads and you will get quite a few recipes to try and make at home- I am sure you will fall in love with at least some of these salads.
Incorporating a variety of fibre-rich foods into your diet ensures a diverse intake of nutrients and promotes optimal digestive function. Whether it's soluble fibre from oats and legumes or insoluble fibre from whole grains and vegetables, each type of fibre contributes to overall health in its unique way. By embracing a fibre-rich diet, you can nurture your gut health, support weight management, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases for a vibrant and balanced life.
If you are looking for nutritional advice, don't hesitate to reach out to me for nutrition consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.