We ideally want to be eating five servings of vegetables and two pieces of fruit a day to be getting enough fibre.
One serving is 75gr of fruit or vegetables or ½ cup. One small apple is one serving of fruit. Our bodies need fibre for optimum function. Let’s look at why.
Fibre plays an essential role in your digestion, heart, and skin health, and improves blood sugar control, weight management, and more.
The two types of fibre
Soluble fibre, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, slowing down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fibre helps with weight control.
Insoluble fibre is found in dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots. This does not dissolve and helps add bulk to your stools, helping digested food to move more quickly through your digestive tract and avoiding constipation.
Benefits of Fibre1
- Blood sugar control: Soluble fibre helps slow the breakdown of carbohydrates and absorption of sugar, aiding blood sugar control
- Heart health: Studies show that those eating a high-fibre diet have a 40% lower risk of heart disease
- Stroke: For every seven-grams more fibre you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent
- Weight loss and management: Fibre helps weight loss among obese people, possibly because fibre increases feelings of fullness
- Skin health: Fibre, particularly psyllium husks, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes
- Diverticulitis: Dietary fibre (especially insoluble) reduces your risk of diverticulitis by 40%
- Haemorrhoids: A high-fibre diet lowers your risk of haemorrhoids
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Fibre may provide relief from IBS
- Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fibre diet reduces the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar and remove toxins
- Diabetes: A high-soluble-fibre diet reduces the risk of diabetes. Soluble fibre dissolves into a gel-like substance which slows down your digestion. This helps you feel fuller for longer. Also, soluble-fibre slows down your absorption of carbohydrates and sugars, thereby helping balance blood sugar levels
- Lower LDL Cholesterol: soluble fibre lowers LDL levels
The only time a diet high in fibre might not be recommended is if you suffer from IBS/IBD symptoms such as flatulence, heartburn, leaky gut syndrome, or stomach pains. The reason you want to be on a low fibre diet is that fibre feeds gut bacteria, both beneficial and pathological. So, if you are suffering from these symptoms you will want to follow the Three R’s Protocol before eventually including plentiful fibre in your diet:
- Remove pathogens
- Restore gut integrity
- Re-populate with beneficial gut bacteria
Disorders that can arise from a low fibre diet are:
- Constipation – small, hard and dry stools that are difficult to pass
- Haemorrhoids – varicose veins of the anus
- Diverticulitis – small hernias of the digestive tract caused by long-term constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome – pain, flatulence and bloating of the abdomen
- Overweight and obesity – carrying too much body fat
- Coronary heart disease – a narrowing of the arteries due to fatty deposits
- Diabetes – a condition characterised by too much glucose in the blood
- Colon cancer – Cancer of the large intestine2
As adults, we want to be consuming 25-30 g of fibre daily. Ideally, fibre should be from plant sources rather than grains. We will talk about why in a later blog. Another good reason for a delicious fruit salad treat!