That’s right, today’s informative post is about fibre!
And to clear things up right off the bat, yes it’s indigestible, and no it doesn’t “just make you poop.” So what’s the point?
It strengthens your digestive system, can lower your cholesterol, promotes healthy microflora, and of course it “keeps you regular.” Oh, and it’s calorie free.
So first of all, there are two different types of fibre, and they both play very important roles when it comes to digestion: Soluble Fibre, and Insoluble Fibre.
What’s the difference?
This type of fibre absorbs water, making it… soluble! While it’s not necessarily soluble by scientific standards, where a compound must dissolve in water, this fibre certainly isn’t insoluble. In fact, it absorbs water to a point that it becomes gel like, and feels similar to wet bread. This absorptive property means that when it’s in your intestines, it will absorb water from either the other food it’s being digested with (preventing or limiting diarrhea), or it will absorb water from your body (preventing or limiting constipation). It also may absorb cholesterol from the body, helping to reduce cholesterol levels. So essentially, soluble fibre tries to maintain a healthy medium between diarrhea and constipation, increasing regularity.
It also slows digestion, resulting in you feeling full for longer. Slowing digestion also helps to regulate blood sugars. For those of you interested in weight loss or weight maintenance, or even if you have kids who are hungry every 20 minutes, it means you can curb that appetite! High protein foods, especially at breakfast, also help decrease appetite, often resulting in a lower food intake throughout the day.
Anyways, on top of these wonderful properties, by keeping things moist and carrying water, soluble fibre provides a favourable environment in which bacteria can grow, promoting healthy gut microflora.
Sounds pretty great, right? Sources of soluble fibre include: psyllium husks, chia seeds, and dried beans, peas, and lentils.
On the other hand, there’s insoluble fibre, which acts as resistance for your intestines to work against. In other words, insoluble fibre works the same way that weight lifting does for your muscles: it creates a force which your muscles need to work against, increasing overall strength over time. By strengthening your intestines, you can expect regularity to improve, as well as a potential decrease in the pain associated with indigestion.
Sources of insoluble fibre include: whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit skins, and vegetables.
So how much do you need?
Canadian Guidelines recommend 21 – 38g (0.75oz – 1.3oz) of fibre per day for men and women, with at least 10g of soluble fibre. Unfortunately, less than half of Canadians are meeting these guidelines.
So if you’re interested in increasing your fibre intake, here are some steps you can take!
- Start small. Increase the amount of fibre in your diet slowly, such as by increasing it by half a teaspoon each week.
- Consume more fruits and vegetables, and if you eat grains, choose whole grain options more often than refined grains.
- Try sprinkling seeds on top of your food. Chia seeds are about equal in size to fresh ground pepper, and are tasteless in food. I suggest you sprinkle them on right before serving though, or you might see their absorptive properties as demonstrated in the Omega Turkey Burgers.
- Add psyllium to thicken soups, smoothies, or porridge.
Have any more tips for increasing your fibre intake? Share them in the comments below, Tweet @CaitiesCooking, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note, that increasing your fibre intake too quickly, or consuming too much, can lead to stomach upset and in rare cases may cause rectal bleeding. Consult with your physician before making any extreme dietary changes, to ensure they’re right for you.
Interested in learning more? Check out these great sources. Searching Fibre on either website will also bring you to more great articles.