The importance of fibre
Posted on January 20 2021
Fibre is an important nutrient which plays a key role in supporting many of your body’s essential functions.
From improving digestive health to boosting your heart, circulation and immune system, fibre has many benefits.It can help regulate your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer, which is essential if you are trying to manage your weight or are following a healthy eating plan.
And if you’re having tummy troubles, fibre can help keep your toilet habits regular and ensure any waste products and excess fat from your diet is flushed away properly.
Fibre is pretty unique in the way your body processes it. Unlike the other nutrients contained in food – such as fat, protein and carbohydrates – fibre doesn’t break down as it passes through your digestive system, so stays mostly intact until it leaves your body.
As such, it helps to sweep through your intestinal tract and bowels, keep them clean and carry any harmful by-products of your food with it.
There are two types of fibre.
Soluble fibre mixes with water to dissolve into a gel-like material, which makes it easier to pass through your gut.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, draws water in but doesn’t dissolve, which means it passes through your bowels as a solid, helping to keep you regular.
A diet that’s rich in fibre is essential to support a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of its other benefits…
WHAT IS FIBRE?
Fibre is made up of the indigestible parts of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. It is a type of carbohydrate that supports good digestive health.
It is the indigestibility of fibre that makes it so important.
Most foods containing fibre give bulk to your diet and help keep your bowels functioning properly, but some types contain coarser or rougher fibre that can cause discomfort or bloating.
That’s why it’s essential to get a good balance of the two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble – to keep your digestive system working as it should.
While most people benefit from eating a high fibre diet, there are certain medical conditions which mean you may have to limit the amount you consume.
If you suffer from inflammatory bowel conditions, such as IBS, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease, then reducing the amount of insoluble fibre you eat will help ease their symptoms.
Likewise, if you have had intestinal surgery, your doctor may recommend a low fibre diet while your body recovers, before you transition back to eating more regular types of food.
In general, though, fibre is a good thing.
It can help you feel fuller for longer so you may not be tempted to reach for the snacks, and also helps your body metabolise and release energy more slowly. This means you won’t get an energy crash like you sometimes do after eating too much sugar or simple carbs like white bread or rice.
WHY IS FIBRE GOOD FOR YOU?There are several reasons why fibre is good for you.
Firstly, it supports the delicate ecosystem of friendly bacteria within your gut, for better digestive and immune health.
Billions of bacteria live in your intestine, and the majority are friendly and essential to your overall health.
They help break down food and fight off more harmful bacteria which can cause illness or infection if they are allowed to multiply. They also help to regulate your weight, blood sugar levels, hormones and mood.
The nutrients from most of the food you eat are absorbed into your blood before they make it into your large intestine, which means there is little left to feed your gut flora.
However, because fibre doesn’t get broken down, it passes through your gut, where it is broken down and digested by your intestinal bacteria.
Fibre can help you maintain or manage your weight. It works to suppress the appetite by soaking up water in the gut, which slows the absorption of nutrients and leaves you feeling fuller.
Fibre can also help level out your blood sugar levels and eliminate spikes and crashes.
Foods which are rich in soluble fibre have a lower glycaemic index than refined carbohydrates, which have been stripped of most of their fibre.
And fibre can also help reduce constipation and keep you regular. It helps to absorb water, bulk-up your stools and speed their passage through your gut.
FOODS THAT ARE HIGH IN FIBREWhile getting enough fibre is important, it’s essential this comes from a variety of sources, as eating too much of one type of food may not provide you with a healthy, balanced diet.
Fortunately, there are many ways to get more fibre into your diet.
High-fibre breakfast cereal like wholewheat biscuits, shredded wholegrain or oats, is a good source.
Wholemeal or granary breads are better than ordinary white bread, although higher fibre white bread is available.
Wholegrain foods, like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice, are better than plain white rice or regular pasta, which have been refined and have had much of their fibre stripped out.
If you have potatoes, keep the skin on, as this is what contains much of the fibre.
Bulk-up stews, soups and curries with pulses, beans, lentils or chickpeas for an additional fibre hit.
Most fresh fruit and vegetables contain fibre, along with other vital vitamins and minerals to keep your gut bacteria healthy. So, make sure you get your five-a-day.
And, of course, if you are concerned you might not be getting enough fibre and want to top up your intake, natural, nutritional supplements can help.
Lily & Loaf has a wide range of products to help you get more fibre into your diet.
Our Fibre Plus powder, for example, contains high-quality fibre from five different sources, while Psyllium Hulls capsules are quick, easy and convenient.
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