Why a High Fibre Diet is so Important
Enjoying a diet high in fibre is encouraged by all health practitioners, dieticians and nutritionists for a range of reasons. As with all diets, variety and diversity is encouraged, to get the most nutritional value and absorb the most micronutrients possible.
Dietary fibre comes to us from the edible parts of plant cell walls and is found in vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and fruit. Unlike other food groups like fats, proteins or carbohydrates, fibre isn’t broken down and absorbed - it instead passes through our stomach, intestines and colon.
Fibre-rich foods typically take longer to digest, giving us that full feeling after eating, the feeling that leaves us satisfied and helps prevent us from snacking on unhealthy options.
Are you getting enough fibre in your diet? They say we should aim to eat 20 to 35 grams of fibre daily. You should also make sure you’re varying the types of fibre you eat with a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre?
There are two forms of fibre- both with their own health giving properties.
Soluble fibre refers to fibre that can dissolve in water. In doing so, it turns into a gel-like substance and swells up, helping us to feel fuller for longer. Soluble fibre is great for keeping glucose levels in check and lowering unhealthily high levels of LDL cholesterol.
To increase levels of soluble fibre in the diet, it’s recommended to include more oats, beans and lentils. Incorporating barley, as well as a range of fresh raw fruits like apples and citrus and vegetables like carrots and peas.
Insoluble fibre stays mostly intact as it makes its way through our system which helps to clean out the digestive tract, promote colon health and prevent constipation. Through increasing the daily consumption of wholegrains, cereals as well as nuts, legumes, and vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and green beans, you will be on your way to achieving your optimal daily intake of insoluble fibre!
To get the most benefit from a high fibre diet, it’s best to incorporate a healthy level of both soluble and insoluble fibre rich foods. Not only does a fibre-rich diet prevent constipation, it also helps to maintain bowel health (as well as healthy gut bacteria), it helps to lower cholesterol levels, promote heart health, reducing blood pressure, inflammation as well as helping to control blood sugar levels as it slows down the absorption of sugar.
TIP: Try eating whole fruits and vegetables with the skin or peel left on whenever possible, stay away from over-processed grains, use whole wheat grain when baking, choose brown rice over white rice, and don’t forget that legumes are a powerful source of protein - with a far greater fibre content than animal proteins.
You don’t need overhaul your diet all at once. With a few simple swaps and incorporating more plant-based wholefoods options each week, you’ll soon start to see and feel the difference that fibre makes in your diet.
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