Worldwide scientific and medical communities agree that a diet rich in fibre has many health benefits. In fact, fibre can help:
I’ve found that a lot of people struggle to know how important fibre is for you and how much you need in a meal.
So, let me explain what fibre is, why it’s important, and how much is enough. Knowing these facts will benefit you. Acting on these facts to eat more fibre will strengthen your overall health.
What Is Fibre?
You see it on the backs of your food packages, but what is fibre really? Is it good for you?
To put it simply, fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate. Yep, that’s right – a carb. Don’t stress though, this is a good carbohydrate – a really good one at that.
Fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves and thickens when it becomes hydrated and is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties.
Soluble fibre is made up of sticky substances like gums and pectin, which form a gel-like substance in the presence of fluid. Cholesterol that is stored in the blood is used to produce bile acids; therefore, as the gel binds the cholesterol and bile acids in the small intestine, it is eliminated from our body with regular bowel movements. It’s this action of gelling and binding that’s also responsible for soluble fibre’s ability to promote a feeling of fullness.
On the other hand, insoluble fibre is the ‘roughage’ in our diet that helps promote a regular and healthy digestive system.
Foods like oatmeal and other grains generally contain both, while many fruits contain only soluble fibre (this is why prunes do what they do).
Why is Fibre Important?
It is important not only because it keeps you regular, but also because it helps to lower inflammation. This is the most important reason that you may want to consider adding more fibre to your diet.
Many of our chronic diseases are the result of inflammation, and if fibre can help to limit this inflammation, you have a secret cure for staying healthy.
This is why many doctors recommend eating oats and fruit in the morning. It’s superb for reducing inflammation and supporting good general health.
How Much Fibre Do You Need?
Fibre intake is important, and recent research shows more and more how crucial it is for us.
In trying to figure out how much you need, an important aspect to consider is that since fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate, each gram you ingest lowers your net carb count by an equal gram.
That means if you eat a slice of bread that has 10 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fibre, you are really only ingesting 7 grams of total carbs. For this reason, many people consider a high-fiber diet to be essential for health and general weight maintenance.
For most people, the dietary guideline for fibre is about 35-40 grams/day (which very few people hit). This is about the equivalent of eating 10 apples. Of course, no one is going to eat that many apples, but having a balanced diet with plenty of dense grains, fruit, and vegetables will help you to hit a healthy daily intake of fibre.
These foods are all healthy sources of fibre:
As you can see, adding more fibre-rich foods to your daily diet is easy to achieve.
Now, I’ve just scratched the surface of the benefits of fibre. But I recommend that you eat smart and opt for a high-fiber-rich diet – it’s great for your overall health!