By Dr Megan Chircop
Fibre is often forgotten or overlooked. However, it is a powerhouse when it comes to optimising our health and wellbeing.
What is it?
Dietary fibre or roughage is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants. It has two main components:
What are the health benefits?
1. Regulate your weight
2. Keeps you regular
3. It is a natural cleanser - fibre binds toxins and eliminates them from the body, including metabolic wastes products made by your body, as well as chemicals that your body makes in excess of need (e.g. cholesterol).
4. Reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels
5. Improves glucose tolerance and the insulin response following a meal
6. Reduces risk of some cancers, particular colon cancer
7. Positively modulates colonic microflora
8. Can alleviate symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel diseases as in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
What happens if you don't have enough?
Some people develop some of these symptoms as a result of specific food intolerances (e.g. lactose intolerance, or an intolerance to certain FODMAPS), and certain diseases. So, if you have been drinking adequately and have been eating >25 grams of fibre a day for at least a couple of weeks and your gut still isn’t happy, I would recommend you see your GP.
Low fibre diets have been linked with colon and rectal cancers, as well as vascular disease.
There is also evidence emerging that low fibre diets generate disturbances in the diversity of the microbiome, which can contribute to weight gain or an inability to lose weight (among other things).
How much fibre do you need?
Most Australians do not consume enough fibre.
The Heart Foundation recommends that adults (.18 years) should aim to consume at least 25g (females) to 30 g (males).
Children aged between 4 and 8 should consume 18 g of fibre each day. Girls aged 9 to 13, and 14 to 18 years, need 20 g and 22 g per day respectively. Boys aged 9 to 13, and 14 to 18 years, need 24 g and 28 g per day respectively.
I still have gut symptoms...Do I need more fibre?
Assuming that you don’t have a bowel disease, then you might require more than the recommended amount of fibre. This may be the case if are consuming high amounts of protein or fat
Ways to increase fibre intake
A sudden switch from a low-fibre diet to a high-fibre diet can create some abdominal pain and increased flatulence (wind). Also, very high-fibre diets (more than 40 g daily) are linked with decreased absorption of some important minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium. This occurs when fibre binds these minerals and forms insoluble salts, which are then excreted. This could increase the risk of developing deficiencies of these minerals in susceptible people.
Introduce fibre into your diet gradually to avoid any negative outcomes
ensure to increase your water intake along with an increase in fibre
What does a healthy plate of food look like with sufficient fibre?
The Body Sculptors Australia team prides itself on developing nutritious recipes that are absolutely delicious. You will wonder why you have not eaten like this your whole life when food tastes this good.
Our mission is to help as many people as possible achieve their ideal healthy, lean and active body to have confidence and happiness in their everyday lives.
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How much you need to eat to achieve your body goal?
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