Fibre is very, very important for the health of the gut, can help prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, prevent bowel cancer, aid with weight loss and weight maintenance and slow down the transit of food through the gut so prolonging the time available for the gut to absorb nutrients from the passing food into the blood. It’s amazing stuff.
In essence, 18-24g per day is what we need. This can be obtained quite happily through a varied, balanced diet in line with the Eatwell Plate (Food Pyramid for our U.S. based friends!). Fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses, wholemeal bread, seeds and grains are all great sources of fibre and the mixture you need of soluble and insoluble fibre should be gotten through including a range of these foods in your regular diet.
Soluble fibre can be partially digested by your body. It may help reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood. If you have constipation, gradually increasing sources of soluble fibre – such as fruit and vegetables, oats and golden linseeds – can help soften your stools and make them easier to pass. This is the glue of your poo, if you like! Water is needed to help with this too.
Foods that contain soluble fibre include:
* oats, barley and rye
* fruit, such as bananas and apples
* root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes
* golden linseeds
Insoluble fibre cannot be digested. It passes through your gut without being broken down and helps other foods move through your digestive system more easily. It is the fabric of your poo!
Insoluble fibre keeps your bowels healthy, helps prevent digestive problems and slows down food transit. If you have diarrhoea, you should limit the amount of insoluble fibre in your diet.
Good sources of insoluble fibre include:
* wholemeal bread
* nuts and seeds (except golden linseeds)
Eating foods high in fibre will help you feel fuller for longer. This may help if you are trying to lose weight or manage your weight after having lost it.
If you need to increase your fibre intake, it’s important that you do so gradually. A sudden increase may make you produce more wind (flatulence), leave you feeling bloated and cause stomach cramps. Too much fibre can prevent your body from absorping nutrients effectively causing deficiency problems so don’t over-do it.
It’s also important to make sure you drink plenty of fluid. You should drink approximately 1.5-2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid a day, or more while exercising or when it’s hot.
Hope this helps!