By Ashleigh Makara, Dietetic Student
Fibre: it is the part of plant-based food that cannot be absorbed by the body. Fibre is found in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts and seeds.
Dietary fibre, as part of a healthy diet, helps keep you digestive system healthy by maintaining normal bowel function, reducing constipation and preventing other bowel complications. It also plays a role in reducing cholesterol, and possibly even reducing your risk for heart disease. A healthy diet rich in fibre could reduce your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, as it slows the absorption of sugar, which helps control blood sugar as well as keeps you feeling full longer helping you manage your appetite.
Types of fibre
Insoluble: important for regular bowel function, found in some fruits (raspberries, apple with skin, strawberries, pear, figs) and most vegetables, whole grains and wheat bran
Soluble: forms a gel with water and helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar, found in some fruits (apples and oranges), some vegetables (carrots, okra and eggplant), oats, barley, psyllium and legumes (beans and lentils)
How much fibre is recommended?
On average, it is recommended that women consume at least 25g of fibre and men have at least 38g of fibre, per day. In addition, you do not have to limit yourself to just that! If your current diet is low in fibre, it is important to increase slowly to avoid experiencing any discomfort such as bloating and gas. Also do not forget to drink plenty of water; this will help minimize possible discomforts. Fibre works best when combined with lots of water and physical activity to make sure you are getting the most out of its health benefits. Canada’s Food Guide recommends 7-10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Here are some fibre rich ideas to make sure you are getting enough:
- Top off plain yogurt with berries/mangoes/banana and a handful of nuts.
- Spread fresh avocado on your whole grain bread/wrap sandwich stuffed with leafy greens.
- Switch up your oatmeal: mix in berries/banana and flax seeds, or scoop some pumpkin purée into your oatmeal with cinnamon and flax.
- Choose a high fibre cereal (bran cereal, shredded wheat) and top off with your favourite fruit.
- Include beans, lentils and vegetables such as corn, carrots, sweet potato, zucchini, and red pepper in your chili recipe.
- Upgrade your stuffed baked sweet potato by keeping the skin and adding corn, black beans, and avocado.
- Consider the following to optimize your fibre intake:
- Keep the skin on fruits and vegetable as much as possible.
- Eat the real fruit/vegetable instead of their juice.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables or have a bowl of salad or veggie soup with your main dish.
- Have at least one fruit/vegetable per meal and snack.
- Chopped fresh veggies make a great snack with dip such as hummus.
- Enjoy a colourful fruit salad for dessert.