Dietary fibre is the portion of plant-based foods that our digestive system cannot break down and absorb. It is made up of complex carbohydrates such as cellulose, pectin, and lignin. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Dietary fiber has several health benefits such as promoting digestive health, reducing the risk of heart disease, managing weight, and regulating blood sugar levels. It also helps to keep us full and satisfied, making it easier to maintain a healthy diet.
Benefits of Dietary Fibres
Dietary fibres have several advantages, such as:
- Improved Digestion: Dietary fibres help regulate bowel movements, prevent constipation and reduce symptoms of diarrhea.
- Heart Health: Soluble fibres have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, which is beneficial for maintaining heart health.
- Blood Sugar Control: fibres can slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, helping to regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Weight Management: Fibres make you feel full faster and for longer, reducing your overall calorie intake and aiding in weight loss.
- Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Studies have shown that a diet high in fibres is associated with a lower risk of certain chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
- Improved Gut Health: fibres act as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy microbiome.
- Improved Bowel Health: A high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids, diverticular disease and colon cancer.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Soluble fibres can also help reduce blood pressure levels by absorbing excess sodium.
- Improved Cholesterol Levels: Soluble fibres can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Better Satiety: Dietary Fibres help you feel full for longer periods, reducing the need for snacking and promoting a healthy diet.
Food Sources | Dietary Fibres
Legumes: All of these legumes—beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas—are high in fibre and have a number of health advantages.
Whole grains: Excellent sources of dietary fibres include whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, oats, and barley.
Vegetables and fruits: Dietary Fibre-Rich Foods include apples, berries, oranges, pears, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Seeds and nuts:Almonds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds are high in fibre and make excellent additions to any diet.
Husk of Psyllium:This soluble fibre is derived from the seeds of the Plantago Ovata plant. It is frequently used as a dietary supplement to boost fibre intake.
Flaxseed: Linseed is another name for flaxseed. It’s high in dietary fibres, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Dried fruits: Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, and raisins are high in fibre and make an excellent snack.
Whole fruits: Whole fruits such as apples, pears, and oranges are high in dietary fibre.
Whole foods in general: Dietary fibre is abundant in whole foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Fibre supplements: Fibre supplements such as psyllium husk, inulin, and guar gum can also be used as a dietary supplement to increase fibre intake.
Fiber Intake Guidelines for Different Fiber Types
Soluble Fibre: Foods high in soluble fibre include oats, barley, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Adults should consume at least 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed.
Insoluble Fibre: Foods high in insoluble fibre include wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables. Adults should consume at least 28 grams per 1,000 calories consumed.
Prebiotic fibre :can be found in foods like onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes. Adults should consume 2-5 grams of fibre per day.
Resistant starch: can be found in foods like potatoes, bananas, and legumes. Adults should consume 2-5 grams of fibre per day.
Foods high in lignin: lignin include flaxseed, whole grains, and vegetables. Adults should consume 2-5 grams of fibre per day.
It is important to note that fiber comes in different types including soluble and insoluble fiber, and a healthy diet should include a mix of both.
Soluble fiber helps regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and promotes regular bowel movements. It’s recommended to aim for a balance of both types of fiber in your diet.
Foods high in fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. It’s important to increase fiber intake gradually to avoid digestive discomfort.
Tips and Recipes for Increasing Fibre in Your Diet
Here are some tips and recipes for increasing fiber in your diet:
- Start the day with a high-fiber breakfast, such as oatmeal with berries or a whole-grain English muffin with almond butter and banana slices.
- Add legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas, to soups, stews, and salads.
- Snack on raw vegetables, such as carrots and celery, with hummus or nut butter.
- Choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and crackers instead of refined grains.
- Add nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to your meals for a fiber boost
- Black Bean Salad: Mix black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, diced red onion, and cilantro with a vinaigrette dressing.
- Quinoa Bowl: Cook quinoa and top with roasted vegetables, avocado, and a drizzle of tahini.
- Veggie Wrap: Spread hummus on a whole-grain wrap and fill with lettuce, grilled vegetables, and grilled chicken or tofu.
- Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry: Cook sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and spices in a sauce made from coconut milk and tomato paste. Serve over brown rice.
- Fiber-Packed Smoothie: Blend almond milk, banana, berries, almond butter, and flaxseeds until smooth.