HIGH FIBRE FOODS
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fibre helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.
Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fibre per day for good health. Great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Fibre comes in two varieties, both beneficial to health:
- Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fibre include oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples and blueberries.
- Insoluble fibre, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
So why do we need fibre in our diet?
There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. So specifically, fibre can help
- Control your blood sugar. Because the body is unable to absorb and break down fibre, it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar the way other carbohydrates can. This can help keep your blood sugar in your target range. If you have diabetes, a meal plan that includes the right amount of fiber can help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of complications. Talking with a dietitian to help create a right diabetes meal plan would be best.
- Protect your heart. Fibre prevents your body from taking in some fat and cholesterol, lowering your triglyceride and cholesterol levels to help reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Maintain your digestive health. Fibre acts like a scrub brush, cleaning your digestive tract. It helps clean out bacteria and other buildup to improve gut health and help reduce your risk of colon cancer.
- Keeps you feeling full and helps with weight management. Since fibre can’t be digested, it moves slowly through the stomach, making you feel fuller for longer. And many foods high in fibre tend to be low in calories, which can help with weight loss.
How to include fibre in your diet
It’s important to get fibre from a variety of sources, as eating too much of one type of food may not provide you with a healthy balanced diet. To increase your fibre intake you could:
- Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain whole-wheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre.
- Go for wholemeal or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
- Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes.
- Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews and salads.
- Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces
- Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it’s better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack.
- For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks (such as carrot, cucumbers, etc), and unsalted nuts or seeds.
Just remember to take things slow when adding fiber to your diet. A sudden increase in fiber can lead to uncomfortable digestive problems such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or cramps. Drink plenty of water to help food move easily through your system.
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