Updated: Apr 12
Those pesky corn kernels and carrots never seem to digest so do we need them at all?
FIBRE is the parts of plant fibres that we can't digest. There are two types of fibre:-
Soluble Fibre - This type of fibre dissolves in water and is broken down in the large intestine by the bacteria and becomes a gel like substance
Insoluble Fibre - Does not dissolve in water and remains unchanged as it moves through the gut.
(AND THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK - RESISTANT STARCH)
Why are they so important?
It can help feed the gut bacteria in a process known as fermentation and this helps to keep our important gut bacteria healthy for a long time. (Some people find this process causes uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, pain (from cramping), and changes in bowel habits, this is known as IBS and so speaking to someone to find out the problem foods may be the answer.
It helps to lower cholesterol by helping to transport cholesterol and fats through the digestive system lowering the amount of fat and cholesterol that the body needs to manage
It helps regulate blood sugar levels as soluble fibre slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach and this slows down the rate at which the foods can increase blood sugar levels during digestion. A lot of foods which we know as Low GI and beneficial for Diabetes contain soluble fibre
It can help with weight loss due to its important function of transporting some fats out of the body
Helps with our overall health, with the blood sugar stabilising, and the reduction in cholesterol but also importantly keeping our gut health in top shape.
Whilst not seeming all that important, it also plays a major role in good digestion. Insoluble fibre will:-
Help to reduce constipation as it helps to build our stools in the large bowel and speed up the digestive processes.
Helps us to feel full after a meal. By filing up our stomach and slowing down digestion it can help us to eat less, particularly those empty calories which we often eat when shacking between meals
Reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other health issues.
And the new 'Fibre" - Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is a "Starch" that resists being digested in the stomach and small intestine and arrives at your large intestine (your colon) undigested and acts like a fibre. Once in the colon the resistant starch's value becomes more apparent
It feeds our gut bacteria, our microbiome
it releases butyrate which works like an anti-inflammatory
it helps strengthen the wall of the gut which has some long term benefits to gut health in general
So where do I get all of this fibre?
Men need a MINIMUM of 30g of fibre per day and for women it is 25g. To get enough fibre every day, Cancer Council Australia recommends that you should eat:
at least 4 serves of wholegrain or wholemeal foods every day (or ensure about half of your daily serves of breads and cereals are wholegrain or wholemeal varieties)
at least 2 serves of fruit daily
at least 5 serves of vegetables daily including legumes (also known as ‘pulses’)
wholefoods rather than dietary fibre supplements as the benefits of fibre from food may be from the combination of nutrients in food working together
A serve of wholegrain or wholemeal foods is equal to:
1 slice of wholegrain bread or 1/2 a medium wholemeal bread roll
1/2 a cup of cooked brown rice, pasta, noodles, or cooked porridge
2/3 cups of wholegrain breakfast cereal
1/4 cup of untoasted muesli
Resistant starch can be found in:-
Cooked and cooled potatoes, rice and pasta
Oats - rolled and uncooked
Lentils, and a range of other foods.
Remember to drink sufficient fluid
Dietary fibre absorbs fluid so it’s important to drink enough liquid, including water. As a rule of thumb, having urine that’s straw coloured or lighter (except first thing in the morning) is a sign that you’re getting enough fluid.
What about fibre and wind?
It’s true that the more fibre we eat the more wind we produce — but this is normal and not a good reason to avoid fibre. If your current diet is low in fibre, increase fibre gradually to help avoid too much wind. The best part of all is that fibre keeps out gut happy and the benefits of this are lifelong.