What is fibre? What does it do? How can I get it?
The main role of fibre (also referred to a roughage) is to keep your digestive system healthy and also to help stabilise blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Primarily though fibre is all about your poo! Yes, that’s correct and there is no use beating around the bush about it. Constipation, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, Irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis…… any of these ailments may be linked to your fibre intake.
There are two types of fibre and both are important to your health.
Soluble Fibre slows down the movement of food through the bowels and intestines and can be found in fruit and vegetables, lentils, barley and soy products.
It slows down the rate of digestion making it good for weight loss as well. On the whole, foods containing fibre are usually quite filling but soluble fibre actually slows down the emptying of the stomach which extends the time that a person feels full which is why it can be beneficial for weight loss. Soluble fibre also soaks up water which plumps out the faeces, allowing it to pass through the gut with ease.
Insoluble fibre speeds up the movement of food through the bowels and intestines. It also adds bulk to faeces which helps to prevent constipation. Insoluble Fibre is found in brans (wheat, corn and rice), fruit skins andwholegrain foods. Fibre also needs water to help it through your system so if you decide to up your fibre intake, always remember to make sure you are drinking lots of water as well.
How can you add more fibre to your diet?
• By eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Apple skins are high in fibre so an apple a day would be a good place to start. One thing to remember is that fruit juices don’t contain a lot of fibre. Once the fruit is juiced its fibre is removed so it would be better just to eat the fruit if increasing fibre is your goal. • Switch your bread to whole grains. • Switch your rice from white to brown. • Add some lentils to your soups or stews • Snack on nuts and wholegrain crackers
Meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese DO NOT contain any fibre. Fibre levels in pre-packaged and processed food will be severely lacking as well.
It is thought on average that the Australian diet contains anywhere up to 25grams of fibre per day. However, Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended levels of 30 – 35grams per day so be sure to keep this in mind when making your food choices.
Your body is your most important asset Take care of it!