Are you filling up on fibre? If not, you should be! Registered Holistic Nutritionist Caroline Farquhar states, “it is recommended that people consume 25-35 grams of fibre daily for optimal health but the average Canadian gets less than 15 grams!” She goes into detail about the health risks associated with a low fiber diet.
“Over time, this leads to a buildup of undigested food in the intestinal tract and colon which ferments, putrefies and becomes toxic. These toxins seep into the bloodstream and lead to poor health and chronic disease. A low fibre diet can also contribute to constipation, some cancers, and has even been linked to obesity.”
What Can Fibre Do For You?
Caroline describes a few compelling reasons to eat more fibre! These include:
It Get Things Moving: “Fibre is essential for healthy bowel function and will improve bowel movements. As fibre passes through the bowel it absorbs water and increases the bulk of the waste matter. It also softens the bowel movement making it easier to pass. This makes fibre key to eliminating constipation.”
It Manages Diabetes: “Fibre slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, slowing down glucose absorption and stabilizing insulin. It also increases insulin sensitivity, which is the measure of how well cells respond to insulin.”
It Helps Your Heart: “Fibre helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and increasing the HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. It also helps to inhibit production of triglycerides by the liver.”
“Fibre can help protect against heart disease and stroke. This seems to be because of its positive effect on cholesterol, circulating blood sugar and blood pressure. Studies show that for every 10 grams of fibre you consume daily, your risk of heart attack may drop by about 14%. Those 10 grams of fibre may also reduce the overall risk of dying from some form of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, by 27 percent!”
It Plays a Role in Losing Weight: “Fibre helps to control appetite making weight loss easier. It does this in two ways: First it helps to physically fill you up by expanding in your stomach creating more volume. Dietary fibre also stimulates the production of the satiety hormone, cholecystokinin (CCK), which sends the message “I am full, put down the fork!” The ability of fibre to stabilize blood sugar levels also helps to control cravings and hunger.”
It should also be noted that fibre can flush calories out of your system! Research has shown that 1 gram of fibre eliminates 7 calories from the diet by preventing absorption.
In addition to this, fibre also acts as a prebiotic which feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut and stimulates their growth to improve digestion, mood and boost immunity! Fibre also absorb toxins and speeds elimination of waste in the system.
Types & Sources of Fiber
Caroline explains that not all fibre is the same. “There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Think of a common household sponge: soluble fibre is the yellow sponge side. It absorbs excess toxins, lowers cholesterol and balances blood sugar. Insoluble fibre is the like the green scrubby side. It ‘scours’ the intestinal tract and colon clean. Both types are essential for good health and found in a balanced diet.”
The term “dietary fibre” refers to the total amount of both soluble and insoluble fibre in the ingredient. Soluble fibres consist of gums, mucilage, and pectin. Insoluble fibre is also known as “roughage” and includes cellulose, some hemicelluloses and lignins. Most raw, whole, plant-based foods contain a mixture of the two. These include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans/lentils, and seeds!
While there are many types of fibre available, Caroline states that some are superior to others. “Many of the fibre supplements on the market are psyllium-based which some people find harsh and constipating. Psyllium is 97% soluble fibre and absorbs 40 times its weight in water. Psyllium can absorb most of the free water in the colon, which leaves it dehydrated and constipated. A gentler option is flaxseed or acacia fibre. These forms of fibre will absorb excess cholesterol and toxins and creates proper bulk in the colon without dehydrating it.”
It is recommended to track your daily fibre intake for a few days and see where you stand next to the recommended amount as many of us fall short. Approximate estimates of fibre content in commonly consumed foods are: 2.5g in 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, 4.5g in 1 medium apple, 4g in 1/4 cup of dry oatmeal, 7.5g in ½ cup cooked black beans. In conclusion, it is best to focus on whole, raw foods, consider a dietary fibre supplement and be sure to drink enough water to replace the fluid that has been soaked up!
-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -