Why Fibre is important

Fibre is a carbohydrate that is mainly found in vegetables and fruit and is important in keeping  our digestive system healthy. Increasing fibre intake in your body is proven to reduce incidence of constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), heart disease, some cancels (stomach and bowel cancer) and lower cholesterol levels .

Fibre is the part of food that our small intestines can’t break down. The bacteria in that part of our stomach simply isn’t able to digest the fibre. So it passes through to the large intestines where other different (good) bacteria live and will benefit from the fibre. As fibre (also known as roughage) passes through our system it scrapes clean our digestive system (helping reduce cancer risk) , cleaning and absorbing bad cholesterol (helping lower heart disease risk).

There are two types of fibre. Soluble and insoluble fibre.  Soluble fibre, mainly found in plant cells, lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and can be found in fruit , vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, lentils, peas, soy milk and soy products. Insoluble fibre makes up the structure of plants and makes up the bulk of to our faeces. It absorbs oils and bad cholesterol and retains water making our stools softer, easing constipation. Good fibre sources include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and wholegrain foods. Some cultures use the skin of fruit that we discard in cooking and bowel cancer and heart disease is almost non-existent there.

Resistant starch acts in a similar way to fibre. It makes up 10% of certain foods. Its found in unprocessed cereals, grain, unripe banana, potato and lentils. It resists being broken down in the small intestine passing through to the  large intestines cleaning as is goes. Bacteria in the large intestine ferment and turn these starches into fatty acid chains which are absorbed in to the blood stream lowering cholesterol levels and reducing bowel cancer.

Ensure you are drinking enough water every day. This can be another cause of constipation. High fibre cereals can cause people discomfort in their stomach unless they are drinking enough water. Also as you increase fibre in your diet ensure you drink extra water.

Fibre has low calorific content. Therefore high fibre meals for can help with weight loss. High fibre meals also helps stabilise blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the need for insulin, helping prevent  and treat diabetes.

Changing your diet is easy.  Switch to breakfasts that contain oats and wheat. Eat high fibre or multi grain bread. Eat brown rice instead of white (highly processed) rice. Cook with wholemeal flour. Eat more vegetable through the day and snack on fresh fruit, nuts and wholemeal crackers. Aim for 30 Grams or more per day spread out through the day. Its worth noting that having a high fibre diet (greater than 40 grams) will lead to bloating and can reduce the uptake of various minerals.


Thanks to the Victoria Government and the Deakin University for supplying this information. Source http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/fibre_in_food?open




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