Fibre is characterized by carbohydrates that can not be fully broken down and digested by your body. Fibre may not contain any calories, vitamins, and minerals but it is very important for your health.
Fibre can only be found in plants, particularly their cell walls. Food from animals like meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs contain no fibre. Fibre is composed of several complex carbohydrates. Fibre can be classified into two types. The first type is insoluble. This type of fibre passes through your digestive system without being digested. The second type of fibre is the soluble fibre. This kind of fibre is digested and broken down with bacteria when it reaches the large bowel.
What are fibre’s functions?
Fibre is basically used for roughage, meaning, it is needed for the proper functioning of your bowel. As fibre passes through your bowel, it absorbs water and makes waste matter more bulky. At the same time, the waste becomes softer. As a result, the waste passes through your bowel faster and easier than usual.
What is the importance of fibre?
When you have a lot of fibre in your diet, you will have several health benefits. It will reduce the occurrence of bowel related problems. Some of the bowel problems that you will prevent are constipation, diverticular disease or when the bowel wall becomes inflamed and damaged, and colon cancer or large bowel cancer.
Soluble fibre keeps your blood sugar levels stable. This is because it can slow down the rate of absorption of glucose in your blood stream. If you are diabetic then this is very important to know. With fibre, you also keep your blood cholesterol levels low and thus, minimizing your risk of getting heart problems.
Fibre also allows you to feel full so that you don’t overeat. If you are trying to lose weight then fibre is important. Fibre allows you to control your appetite.
How much fibre should you consume?
The average adult should consume around eighteen grams of fibre every day. This refers to one type of fibre that we consume and it is the non-starch polysaccharides type or NSP. Right now, this recommendation is being reviewed because some experts believe that the average adult should have several other types of fibre in their diet as well. If their claims are true then the average adult will be required to consume about twenty four grams of fibre every day. There are also studies that show that fibre intake must be increased to thirty grams every day in order to maintain good health.
In the United Kingdom, the average person only consumes twelve grams of fibre every day. This is too little. People from the United Kingdom should not be surprised if ten to twenty percent of the population has some sort of constipation problem.
It is wise to increase your fibre intake in your diet slowly. This is because if you suddenly increase your diet with fibre, you may experience stomach cramps, wind, and bloating. In line with increasing your intake of fibre, you must also increase your intake of fluids because the fibre needs to absorb fluids during digestion.
Overdose of fibre can also be harmful to your body. If you have too much fibre in your body, then essential vitamins and nutrients may not be absorbed anymore. Your body may lose its ability to absorb minerals and valuable nutrients.
What are some foods that have fibre?
All foods that are plant based have fibre in them. They only differ in the amount of fibre they have. Foods that are rich in fibre include fruits, vegetables, wholegrain rice, wholegrain pasta, whole meal bread, nuts, seeds, bran, and wholegrain breakfast cereals. If you want to consume foods that are rich in soluble fibre then consider eating fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, and outs. If you want to consume insoluble fibre then eat foods like whole meal bread, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain breakfast cereals.
When you go shopping, make sure you look at the food labels. If the type of food has at least three grams of fibre per one hundred grams then they can be labelled as sources of fibre. If the type of food has six or more grams of fibre per one hundred grams then they can be labelled as high in fibre. You should diversify your selection of fibre rich foods. Get a good mix of soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet.