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The Importance of Fibre in Your Diet


Do you get enough fibre? The average person does not get the recommended amount which is 35-40 grams of fibre a day. So that leads us to a couple of questions that you may be asking yourself right now?

What exactly is fibre?

Fibre is a complex carbohydrate that is basically the part of the food that cannot be digested nor can it be absorbed by our body in order to produce energy. Fibre only comes from plants, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.

Fibre does not contain any calories or vitamins or minerals, but it is very important in our diet.

What is the difference between soluble fibre and insoluble fibre?

Soluble fibre is simply fibre that dissolves in water and breaks down forming a gel. When soluble fibre moves through the digestive system, it traps things like toxins and fat so they can be removed from our body.

Insoluble fibre provides bulk to and strengthens and tones the muscles of the colon. It acts like little scrub brushes along the intestinal tract removing debris that gets trapped there while sweeping the bowels clean.

We need both soluble and insoluble fibre in our diet on a daily basis no matter what age we are. It is also very important to consume enough water daily for good bowel health and to help the fibre do it’s job.

A good way to remember which type of fibre is which, is to think of a typical sponge you probably use to do dishes with. Think of the soft yellow part of the sponge as the soluble fibre as it absorbs water, and think of the harder more scratchy part of the other side of the sponge as being the insoluble fibre, as it acts like a scrub brush along the intestinal walls.

What are good sources of fibre?

As I mentioned earlier, fibre comes from plants, vegetables and nuts, seeds, and grains; so all of these are good sources of fibre. Here are a few examples of good sources of fibre and how much they contain:

  • 1 oz of almonds provide about 3.5 grams
  • 1 cup of prepared oatmeal provides 4 grams
  • 1/2 cup of black beans provides 7.5 grams
  • 6 whole wheat crackers provides 2.9 grams
  • 1 cup of long grain brown rice provides 3.5 grams
  • 3/4 cup steamed broccoli provides 3.9 grams
  • 1 medium banana provides 3.1 grams

Examples of foods that provide 0 grams of fibre are meat, fish, eggs, dairy products (milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc), and salad dressings.

How much fibre do we need daily?

Children: Here is a simple calculation for children: age of child + 5 = amount of fibre required would be 10 grams. It is important to ensure they are drinking enough water as well so the fibre works properly in their bodies.

Adults: 35-40 grams daily

Fibre is key to eliminating constipation. It is essential for healthy bowel function and in fact, it improves bowel movements. When fibre passes through the bowel, it absorbs water and increases the bulk of the waste matter while softening the bowel movement making it easier to pass.

Fibre helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol and increases the LDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol levels. Because of the positive effect on cholesterol, fibre can protect against heart and stroke disease as well.

Fibre helps manage glucose (sugar) levels in the body by slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, slowing down the glucose absorption and stabilizes insulin. Because it increases insulin sensitivity which is the measure of how well cells respond to insulin, fibre is really important in managing diabetes and can help reverse insulin resistance.

Diets high in fibre may decrease the risk of developing breast, colon, pancreatic and stomach cancer. Partly because of many fibre rich foods contain phyto-nutrients which help the body fight off tumors.

If you are trying to control your appetite, fibre is your best friend. With soluble fibre, the gel mass it forms fills you up by expanding your stomach creating more volume, which in turn creates more of the satiety hormone cholecystokinin (CKK), which sends the message “I am full, put down the fork”. When blood sugar is stabilized, cravings and hunger dissipate. This in turn helps us to eat less instead of overeating.

One of my favorite things about fibre is it’s ability to help with weight loss by actually decreasing the amounts of calories absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that for every gram of fibre we eat, we actually can eliminate 7 calories. Example: 35 grams of fibre would flush out 245 calories daily! That’s huge if you are trying to lose weight.

Soluble fibre acts as a food for the “good” bacteria in our gut helping to increase the colonization of “probiotics”. It is basically a “prebiotic”.

If you ever do a cleanse of any kind, it is extremely important to ensure you are getting adequate fibre and water in your daily diet. Fibre binds toxins, heavy metals, candida and parasite die off making it crucial in any detoxification or cleansing program. It is a must. Otherwise, when you are doing a cleanse, toxins, heavy metals, etc are pulled out of the cells and may begin recirculating back in the body through the blood stream making you sick.

One important thing to know is that if you want to increase your fibre intake, do it slowly and ensure you drink plenty of water. Make sure you are eliminating daily. Fibre is not a laxative. I’ve met tons of people who think if they have diarrhea that they do not need fibre. Wrong! Fibre soaks up moisture from the colon, so if diarrhea is an issue, fibre is required. Soluble fibre would be a good choice.

I’ve had many people say they love Psyllium. Psyllium can be extremely constipating because it actually absorbs 40 times its weight in water and if a person isn’t drinking enough water, psyllium can absorb most of the free water in the colon, leaving it dehydrated and constipated. I personally do not recommend psyllium as a good fibre supplement.

If a person isn’t getting enouh fibre in their diet on a daily basis, I do recommend that they supplement with a good fibre. I would look for a fibre supplement that contains flaxseed and acacia fibre. Flax based fibres are soluble and insoluble fibre and help absorb excess cholesterol and toxins and help provide bulk in the colon without dehydrating it. Acacia fibre is water soluble and acts as a prebiotic helping to colonize the “good” bacteria in the gut. Acacia fibre doesn’t usually cause gas or bloating the way chickory root “inulin” can for some people.

Add some ground flaxseed to your yogurt or a bit of acacia fibre to your water bottle to get additional fibre. Increase your daily intake of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and grains. Also be sure you are getting adequate Omega 3’s in your diet as this also helps lubricate the colon among other things.

Source: Renew Life Canada

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