Fibre is food that cannot be digested. Consumption of dietary fibre has been linked to many health benefits including healthy heart function, improved digestive health, and prevention of certain types of cancer. Dietary fibre is classified based on their solubility.
There are two types of dietary fibre, soluble and insoluble, which both affect our body and health in different ways and provide various benefits. Fibre can also be grouped according to viscosity and ability to ferment.
Most people get 15 g of fibre per day. However, we should aim for 25–30 grams considering the health benefits of fibre. You can make sure you are eating enough dietary fibre by including high-fibre foods in your meals and checking the labels of food products for their fibre content. That way, you can get your fibre consumption up and enjoy its health-enhancing benefits.
Here are some of the reasons why you need to increase your fibre intake:
Dietary fibre can help improve your digestive system. Insoluble fibre enhances the process of digestion by pushing food items through the digestive tract without being broken down itself, helping to clear the digestive tract of food particles and preventing the build-up of toxins. On the other hand, soluble fibre, which is the form of fibre that dissolves in water, helps to soften faecal matter, improving the transition of stool out of the digestive tract, especially when you have constipation.
Fibre helps keep hunger at bay mainly because it’s difficult to digest. The implication of this is that it will stay in the digestive tract for longer, keeping you full for an extended period of time. On the other hand, simple carbs are digested easily, and their energy is released into the bloodstream quickly, leaving you hungry shortly after having your meal. This is one of the ways by which fibre-rich food helps improve weight loss by reducing your food consumption.
Foods that are high in fibre help to control blood sugar levels by slowly releasing the sugar into the bloodstream. This ensures that the energy lasts for longer and prevents sudden spikes in sugar levels that make you hungry shortly after eating, prompting snacking behaviour that could lead to weight gain. On the other hand, simple sugars release sugar into the bloodstream rapidly, causing sudden blood sugar level elevation and dropping, and increased snacking behaviour. To keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable all day, ensure you include high-fibre foods such as veggies and whole grains in your meals.
Research shows that fibre consumption can lower levels of LDL cholesterol, an important risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Fibre achieves this by binding to LDL particles and bile until they are eliminated from the body.
Studies have shown that intake of dietary fibre can effectively reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and strokes. Fibre has been shown to improve glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes and helps to curb obesity by improving satiety, which prevents overeating.
Fibre should form an integral part of every healthy diet. In addition to promoting gut health, it also fills you for longer and provides many health benefits. Who wouldn’t want to load up on fibre!