Dietary Fibre 101 – What is it and why is it good for you?
Dietary fibre is found in the indigestible parts of plants. I hear you ask – If it’s found in the indigestible parts of plants – how can it be good for us?
The fact that our body enzymes cannot break it down ensures that fibre acts as a binding agent for toxins – escorting substances we don’t need, helping to export them safely out of the body and avoiding fermentation, nasty build up in our bodies and disease.
Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system and should not be overlooked in your daily diet. Even better, is that it’s very easy to integrate, as long as you have a healthy fresh whole food diet!
If you’ve been to any credible health retreat, professional or Naturopath in regards to immune system, illnesses, sluggish metabolisms, allergies or pretty much any ailment; chances are you’ve been asked to provide a stool sample – not dinner table discussion.
You can tell a lot about your health from your daily ‘bathroom habits’. A major contributing factor to this key function in your body operating efficiently, is fibre.
A healthy amount of natural dietary fibre per day can assist with:
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Reducing the risk of bowel cancer and potentially other cancers
- Diabetes/Blood sugar levels
- And other long-term health benefits.
There are 2 types of fibre:
Soluble Fibre: The one that acts like a sponge when it’s combined with water and absorbs toxins and waste, making them easier to extract from the body.
- Sources of soluble fibre include fruits, vegetables, avocados, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, lentils, peas, organic natural soy milk and soy products.
The second type of fibre is called insoluble fibre. It is found in the structural parts of plant cell walls – it does not bind with water but is essential on creating bulk and prevents constipation. Without efficient elimination of waste, your body won’t run on its full potential.
- Insoluble fibre sources include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and whole grain foods.
You need both forms of fibre for optimal health. Hence the benefit of eating whole foods instead of their extracted and processed versions.
What if you are gluten intolerant? The good news is fibre is not just found in grains but actually in it’s best combination in whole plants – so that’s a bonus too.
Are you getting enough fibre?
If you are eating a predominantly WHOLE FOOD diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables then chances are you are getting some good sources of natural dietary fibre.
If you have a diet that is rich in processed foods and packaged items, then chances are you’re missing a vital ingredient in the healthy optimal operation of your body on daily basis.
Your daily diet should consist of lots of natural foods that are rich in colour, texture and as close as possible to their natural state.
Eating whole foods ensure that you can get a good amount of dietary fibre as per nature intended. Balanced with other food elements, it serves a purpose to help your body ‘clean up’ after the meal and carry designated wastes safely on.
Can I get fibre from a packet or add it as a supplement?
You can supplement fibre with products like Metamucil which has been on the market for years, All-Bran cereal a more processed option and natural Psyllium seed husk brands.
It’s best to avoid fibre products on the market that are a manufacturing bi-product. i.e left over from a process food, then skimmed off and packaged up. Try and stick to the natural supplements and whole food options.
How can I make sure I get enough fibre for a healthy happy body?
Drink plenty of water – excess fibre and not enough water can lead to dehydration and other issues. Keep it balanced and drink lots of water to help your bodies elimination process.
Ensure you are getting the WHOLE PICTURE – a diet rich in natural whole foods, unprocessed fruit and vegetables and natural sources of oats and grains.
Don’t believe everything you read on packaging:
- Look for WHOLE wheat flour rather than enriched or just wheat flour. You need the whole grain with the outer seed for it to be truly fibre rich – not just a processed or fortified element.
- Raw oats are better than rolled oats as they are as close as possible to their natural state
- Dark green leafy vegetables, fruit with skins, beans and even seaweed are fibre rich – so blending the whole fruit or vegetable ensures you get the full fibre story.
As always this is just to kick-start you thinking about having balance in your diet and getting the whole picture when it comes to nutrition.
- Nature has done a pretty god job of packaging everything up in combinations that work well for our bodies. Sometimes it just pays to stick to the basics and live by the fresh is best philosophy.
If you would like to receive of our top 5 favourite high fibre snacks/meals then email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them over! Our recipes on Facebook are usually packed with natural goodness and whole foods so are also ideal for fibre intake.
Remember – our bodies are working away all day at creating a healthy environment to operate at our fittest and healthiest best. Make sure you provide the right ingredients and tools to make that internal job effective and ensure long-lasting health.
Health & Happiness!
Here a four quick references for some more reading and recipes:
Healthy recipes that are inspiring and delicious can be found on Taste.Com.Au
Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for high fibre pancakes and other healthy recipes that are fun to try
Other articles from this blog on healthy eating and sustainable living