Fibre… Fibre…Fibre… Whether you’ve heard about it on the TV flung around in a breakfast commercial or from your G.P. We are told to eat more and that Western diets are low in fibre! But what is it and why is it so important?
Well, first the good stuff… This is what fibre can do for you.
- It can keep you nice and regular and keeps all the good bacteria in your digestive tract happy and healthy
- It helps to regulate your blood sugar levels so your energy is more likely to be steady through the day and you have less risk of blood sugar problems like diabetes developing 1.
- It can help you keep to a good weight for you. Studies have shown that when people eat less fibre, they are more likely to put on weight or have problems losing weight2,3.
- It can help with keeping your cholesterol levels in a good place. Cholesterol itself is a whole blog piece of course but generally, we always want to aim for balanced cholesterol levels, right for you and by eating appropriate daily levels of fibre this is more likely to happen.
- It can help remove toxins from the body so is great for supporting your natural detoxification processes.
Fibre. So, what is it?
Dietary fibre can be found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains and is part of plant foods that our bodies can’t break down. Our understanding of the beneficial effects of fibre on health has grown especially around the benefits associated with metabolic health, gut health, reducing inflammation, and mood to name a few 4. The effect of fibre on the gut primarily relates to satiety (keeping you feeling full), bowel frequency (how often you go to the bathroom), and the microbiome (gut bacteria) 5. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that the daily intake of fibre among men is 30g and women 25g 6. Unfortunately, many Australian adults’ dietary fibre intake falls well below this recommendation.
Fibre has many amazing benefits for your overall health and wellbeing. Did you know there are two types of fibre? The two forms are soluble and insoluble, and both behave differently in your gut. Both soluble and insoluble fibre forms are important for your body’s health and vitality and are easy to include in your daily foods.
- Bypasses digestion in the small intestine.
- Absorbs water forming a gel-like substance.
- Is easily fermented in the large intestine by gut bacteria.
- Can slow down the stomach emptying keeping you fuller for longer.
- Sources: Apples, oats, blueberries & beans.
- Not able to dissolve in water.
- Stays intact as it passes through the digestive system.
- Adds bulk to stools.
- Sources: Nuts, seeds, green beans, zucchini & carrots.
Fibre has many health benefits for digestion and can help reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. Studies have shown consuming food that is full of variety is key to optimising the amount of your daily fibre intake and decreasing the risk factors associated with increased mortality 7.
6 Benefits of fibre
- Supports your microbiome health
- Helps regulate your bowels
- Helps detoxification pathways
- Supports blood glucose
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
1. Chen, C., Zeng, Y., Xu, J., Zheng, H., Liu, J., Fan, R., Zhu, W., Yuan, L., Qin, Y., Chen, S., Zhou, Y., Wu, Y., Wan, J., Mi, M., & Wang, J. (2016). Therapeutic effects of soluble dietary fiber consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 12(2), 1232–1242. https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2016.3377
2. Miketinas, D. C., Bray, G. A., Beyl, R. A., Ryan, D. H., Sacks, F. M., & Champagne, C. M. (2019). Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. The Journal of nutrition, 149(10), 1742–1748. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz117
3. Solah, V. A., Kerr, D. A., Hunt, W. J., Johnson, S. K., Boushey, C. J., Delp, E. J., Meng, X., Gahler, R. J., James, A. P., Mukhtar, A. S., Fenton, H. K., & Wood, S. (2017). Effect of Fibre Supplementation on Body Weight and Composition, Frequency of Eating and Dietary Choice in Overweight Individuals. Nutrients, 9(2), 149. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9020149
4. Barber, T. M., Kabisch, S., Pfeiffer, A., & Weickert, M. O. (2020). The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients, 12(10), 3209. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103209
5. Williams, B. A., Mikkelsen, D., Flanagan, B. M., & Gidley, M. J. (2019). “Dietary fibre”: moving beyond the “soluble/insoluble” classification for monogastric nutrition, with an emphasis on humans and pigs. Journal of animal science and biotechnology, 10, 45. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40104-019-0350-9
6. The National Health and Medical Research Council. (2019). Dietary fibre. Retrieved August 10, 2022 from https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/dietary-fibre
7. Yang Y, Zhao LG, Wu QJ, Ma X, Xiang YB. Association between dietary fiber and lower risk of all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Jan 15;181(2):83-91. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu257. Epub 2014 Dec 31. PMID: 25552267.