What is dietary fibre?
It is something that we hear about quite often (television advertisements, radio, health professionals etc.) however, do we actually know what it is and the benefits of consuming it?
Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the stomach and intestines. It is found in edible plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. By ingesting this type of carbohydrate the following benefits can occur:
- Normalised bowel movements by increasing the weight and size of the stool
- Helps maintain bowel health by ‘cleaning’ the intestinal walls
- Aids in achieving healthy weight by keeping you fuller for longer
- Helps to lower cholesterol levels
- Helps to control blood sugar levels
There are 3 different types of dietary fibre and each play a different role in the digestive tract
Soluble Fibre: Helps you to maintain that feeling of ‘fullness’ by slowing stomach emptying. The fibres bind together to form a gel like consistency, which helps the contents of the gastrointestinal tract move along smoothly. Soluble fibre also helps to lower cholesterol and stabilise blood glucose levels
- Sources include: fruits and vegetables, oats and barley
Insoluble Fibre: Absorbs water, adds bulk to the contents of the gastrointestinal tract and helps to keep bowel movements regular. Insoluble fibre also helps to ‘clean’ the bowel walls and keep the bowel environment healthy.
- Sources include: wholegrain breads, cereals, nuts, seeds and skins of fruit and vegetables.
Resistant Starch: Is the starch portion of plant foods that resist digestion in the small intestine. By resiting digestion this allows it to be fermented when it reaches the large intestine where it can support the growth of good bacteria and improve bowel health.
- Sources include: ripe bananas cooked and cooled potato, undercooked pasta and rice.
So now that we know what dietary fibre is and the benefits of consuming a diet high in dietary fibre, how do we ensure that we are getting enough?
Top 5 tips..
- Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a variety of plant based foods
- Choose wholegrain, wholemeal or high fibre varieties of pasta, bread, wraps
- Adding bran, seeds, or nuts to your cereal / yoghurt
- Adding legumes to your mince meats / salads