Dietary fibre is very important for your gut health. To keep chronic conditions at bay, include a healthy portion of fibre-rich foods in your diet.
We all have had days where we have digestive troubles. The common recommendation by health care professionals is to include dietary fibre in your daily diet. In fact, dietary fibre is so critical for your overall health, that Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends a daily dietary fibre intake of 20 grams for women and 26 grams for men. This is because dietary fibre is very critical for gut health. So, there are lasting and long-term benefits of consuming fibre.
Dietary fibres are part of plant food. We probably don’t think much about it, but it is very important. Studies indicate that whole plant food is extremely beneficial for us and may lower body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. One of the reasons may be the goodness of a good dose of fibre.
What is Dietary Fibre?
Fibre is the indigestible part of plant food that cannot be broken down by your body. Many other food components such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats get dissolved and absorbed, unlike fibre. It isn’t digested and it passes out for your body through the stomach, intestine and colon. It is found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits and the likes.
Consuming fibre is essential for healthy gut health as it reduces constipation, heart diseases, diabetes and bowel syndromes. Gut health contributes to promoting the overall health of our body which is why eating fibre has many benefits.
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Different Types of Fibres
Here are different types of fibres that have different functions and effects on your health.
1. Soluble Fibres
As the name suggests, this type dissolves in the water and forms a gel like element. This is primarily found in oats, nuts, seeds, lentils, fruits, vegetables and helps to slow down the digestion process. Soluble fibre also helps to:
- Maintain good bacteria that promote a healthy gut.
- Lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels.
- Slow down the passing of food through your stomach which helps to keep you feeling fuller for a long time.
2. Insoluble Fibres
This type does not dissolve in water. It helps the movement of food through your digestive system and increases bulk in the food so it can help to ease the digestion process, especially for those suffering from constipation and irregular bowel issues. It is found in whole grain wheat, whole bran, the skin of some vegetables and fruits.
3. Resistant Starch
It is another type of fibre that resists the digestion process in our small intestine and goes directly to the large intestine. There it acts as a food source for the healthy gut bacteria and promotes a healthy gut flora. It is basically found in pasta, cooked potatoes and rice.
Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre
1. Protection Against Heart Disease
A research from 2017 found that people who eat dietary fibre have significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Soluble fibres such as beans, flaxseeds, may help to reduce the “bad cholesterol” levels. A fibre rich diet may help to reduce high blood pressure and any sort of inflammation within. All these positive impacts on your health can reduce the risk of heart attack and other chronic heart related diseases.
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2. Good Gut Health
As discussed previously it is especially beneficial for people suffering from constipation or other bowel syndromes. Consuming a high fibre diet helps to promote regular stool movement, reduces constipation.
A review from 2009 says it also has a positive impact on gastrointestinal diseases:
- Gastroesophageal refluxes.
- Colorectal Ulcers.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Soluble fibre slows down the digestion process and helps to slow down sugar absorption in the body. This helps to regulate and maintain blood sugar levels. Insoluble fibre can also help to prevent type-2 diabetes.
4. Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
High fibre foods help you to feel full for longer hours. Consuming fibre will make you eat less and stay satisfied for a longer time. A study found that people who increased their dietary fibre intake accelerated their weight loss.
Good Sources of Dietary Fibre
If you want to improve your overall health, then increasing the fibre intake is the best option. You can make these changes in your everyday routine.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with the skin.
- Add beans, lentils to soups and salads.
- Change your breakfast meals to a high fibre meal.
- Use wholegrain pasta and replace the plain pasta with it.
- Read the food labels and consume fibrous foods.
How To Add More Fibre In Your Meal?
Want to know ways in which you can add more fibre in your diet?
Try these tips.
1. Eat Fibre Filled Breakfast
Choose a high fibre meal for your breakfast such as breakfast cereal with whole grains.
2. Add Legumes In Your Fibre Diet
Beans, Peas, and Legumes are vital sources of fibre. You can create great dishes by adding these in your soup and salad.
3. Load Up On Fruits and Vegetables
Not only do they have fibre but they are a rich source of many other nutrients such as minerals, vitamins. Consume a sufficient proportion of fruits and veggies.
Supplements and Allergy
Some people might find it difficult to consume a high fibre diet. You need to seek medical advice and try to find good sources of fibre that would not cause any allergic reactions.
Dietary fibre is an essential element of a great diet. It helps to prevent many chronic diseases, and promotes a healthy gut. Try to add a sufficient amount of fibre in your daily diet without consuming too much. You can also consult a doctor to know the proportion of fibre that needs to be consumed by infants, adults and old people.