How to get more fibre into your diet

FrancisFrancis Posts: 18
edited Tuesday 10 July 19:30 in Health

What is Dietary Fibre?

Fibre is a substance in plant. Dietary Fibre is the one you eat – the indigestible portion of plant foods in the body. Whereas most food components such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates are digestible meaning that your body breaks them down and consequently absorb them, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules (non-digestible) and rather passes through your stomach, small intestine and colon and excreted out of the body.

According to report published on United States Department of Agriculture, dietary fibre consist of non-starch polysaccharide - e.g. cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, pectins, oligosaccharides - e.g. inulin, and associated plant substances  e.g. dextrins, lignin, chitins, pectins, glucans,oligosaccharides

Types of Dietary Fibre

Fibre is classified into two: soluble and non-soluble.

The soluble fibre (also known as fermentable fibre) dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. Being prebiotic, soluble stimulates the growth of body-enhancing bacteria that colonize the large bowel by acting as substrates to them and also reduces the blood cholesterol level.

Example of food components rich in soluble fibre are carrots, barley, rye, psyllium, beans, apples, oats, peas, citrus fruits, potatoes, etc.

Insoluble fibre (also known as partially fermentable fibre) comes mainly from plant cell wall and does not dissolve in water. It has the capacity to increase absorption of water in the intestine which increases stool bulk. This is highly beneficial to people who has persistent constipation issues or irregular stools.

Example of food components rich in insoluble fibre are cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, cereal foods like high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal breads and pasta, brown rice and other wholegrain, nuts and seeds, etc.

Why Fibre Is Important to the Health

Cardiovascular disease: Consistent intake of Fibre may play a beneficial role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases CVD and coronary heart disease by reducing the low density of lipoprotein levels (LPD)  - which are complex proteins and fats that aid in the transport of other lipids in the blood plasma - C-reactive protein levels, and apolipotroteins. Epidemiology studies suggest soluble fibres, glucans and pectins have proven ability to lower blood lipids and other bookmarkers for heart disease.

Lower Cholesterol Level (Viscosity):  Taking lots of fibre is essential for everyone’s body. Dietary fibre helps in lowering the cholesterol levels as well as keeping the body trimmed and feeling full. It is advisable for one to fill up their diet with fibre and not fats.

Glycaemia and insulin sensitivity: Many studies indicate that type 1 or type 2 diabetes could be controlled or possibly reduced if the individual increases the dietary fiver consumption without altering the calorie intake from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This will dramatically improve the glycaemic control and lowers the rate of medication in individuals affected above.

Laxation and Regularity: Fibre has the ability to potentially increase the stool weight. Because Fibre retains water in the intestine, it increases the fermentable bacteria which eases defecation  and lowers or relieves constipation. Hence it maintains healthy bowel movement.

Healthy Body Weight: Individuals eating diets that are high in Fibre typically have lower fat density. Studies conducted by Howarth et al recapped that increasing fibre intake by 14g per day was associated with 10% decrease in energy intake and  1.9 kg over 3.8 month’s period.

How Much Fibre Is Needed in the Body

Health experts recommend one to take fibre daily between the amounts of 25g - 30g. Doctors recommend that children below the age of 16 years do not need to take much of fibre as compared to the teenagers and adults. However, they have to increase their fibre intake in their diet.

Averagely teenagers and children are currently consuming roughly less than fifteen grams of fibre per day. They should be encouraged to eat more of vegetables and fruits, along with foods which are starchy. Whole grain and potatoes which contain skins if eaten in plenty will help in ensuring that enough fibre is absorbed into the body.

For instance, children between the ages of 2 to 5 years need to eat approximately 15 grams of fibre per day, those aged between 5 to 11 years require about 20 grams and children whose age range between 11 to 16 years old need about 25 grams on a daily basis whilst 16 – 18 needs 30g per day.

Age (years)

Recommended intake of fibre

2-5

15g per day

5-11

20g per day

11-16

25g per day

16-18

30g per day

Affordable Rich Sources of Fibre

Apple with Raw Skin

Apple belongs to the Rose family of plants and its peels are a great source of fibre. Apple fruit is inexpensive and could easily be bought either on the supermarket or small shops along the streets. Eating apple once a day could prevent you from seeing your GP about your health. Phytonutrients in apples can help you regulate your blood sugar level while Flavonoids like quercetin inhibit enzymes like alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. The polyphenols have been shown to lessen absorption of glucose from the digestive tract

Fibre Content: It contains 2.4g per 100g

Pears

Botanically, pears belong to medium-sized family of flowering plants called Rosaceae. Pears are delicious fruit for veggie lovers and if you aren’t in the mood for an apple, please grab pear for full refreshment. They are low-calorie fruits containign 17 amino acids (out 0f 26 amino acids) of which 9 are considered as essential while 8 are non-essential.  They serve as a good bulk laxative because of the presence of the non-soluble polysaccharide in the fibre content and with its fibre-binding effect, pears lowers the carcinogenic toxin formation in the colon by acting as shield to the mucous membrane.

Fibre Content: It contains 3.1g per dietary fibre per 100g.

Avocado

Avocado is one of the world’s most nutritious fruit. The creamy flesh of the avocado is a rich fibre source and belongs to the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It could be eaten raw or with a slice of bread when you remove the pit.

Fibre Content: It contains 7g per dietary fibre per 100g.

Parsnip

When you see it from afar on a supermarket shelf, it looks similar to carrot and parsley. It is a root vegetable with distinct and delicious taste. It belongs to a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems called the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae.

Fibre Content: It contains 4.9g per dietary fibre per 100g.

Eat Granola

Granola such as Tay’s have a high-fibre and lower amounts of sugar. You should pour milk over it and begin eating as breakfast cereals.

Fibre Content: It contains 4.9g per dietary fibre per 100g.

Broccoli

Broccoli is an edible green plant with special cholesterol-lowering benefits when you cook it by steaming. It is one of the world’s most nutritious green plants and contain plenty of minerals – vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, etc - other than (respectable amount of) fibre. Due to rich mineral content, it has been associated with weight loss and can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.

Fibre Content: It contains 2.6g per dietary fibre per 100g

Carrots

Carrots is a root vegetable usually orange in colour but other colour varieties exist. It belongs to Apiaceae the same family with parsnip but more popular than the later. It could be eaten raw, cooked or even when steamed as it poses no harm to the health. It could also be eaten in between meals, with meals and after meals as a source of considerable amount of fibre.

Fibre Content: It contains 2.8 per dietary fibre per 100g

Spinach

With its botanical name as Spinacia oleracea, spinach is a beautiful edible versatile lettuce and serves as a nutritional power house which springs up from the rich fibre properties. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.

Fibre Content: It contains 2.8 per dietary fibre per 100g

Quinoa

Quinoa belongs to the family Amaranthaceae and is grown primarily for its edible seed and remains a good source of fibre – one of the ultimate macronutrients needed for healthy blood sugar regulation.

Fibre Content: It contains 5.18g per dietary fibre per 100g

Meals Combination to Increase Fibre intake

Most vegetables contain fibre in their skin. However, most people often peel off the skin of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, turnips and beets so that they can cook them. It is advisable to just scrub them slightly or leave most skin and then cook them as usual.

Rather than go for such snacks as chips or crackers, one can actually make snacks by using raw vegetables. For example, this can be done by slicing vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, jicama and celery and thereafter dip them in hummus so that they get some boost of extra fibre.

One should add approximately a quarter cup of chick peas or kidney beans to a salad, this amounts to 5 grams of fibre and therefore is a great way of adding an extra amount of proteins and texture, as well as a great taste to the salad one is taking for lunch or any other meal.

By topping an ice cream with a sprinkling and swirling them into a smoothie, before baking them into cookies helps in adding a bit of texture and becomes interesting due to the addition of fibre.

Majority of people do not realize that by eating popcorn, they have actually eaten a whole grain. This helps in saving from gaining more fats as well as increasing one’s dietary fibre.

Sandwiches containing a mixture of veggies such as a slice of tomato, lettuce leaves and sprinkled with sprouts become healthier and interesting and contains more dietary fibre.

Conditions Linked to Low-fibre Diets

Constipation – inability to pass stool regularly or unable to completely empty your bowel.

Haemorrhoids – swollen of vascular veins or structures in the anal canal.

Overweight and obesity – a condition characterised by too much fat in the body

Coronary heart disease – building up of plaque inside the oxygen-supplying arteries to the heart muscle resulting in atherosclerosis.

Diabetes – a condition characterised by too much glucose in the blood

Colon cancer – cancer of the large intestine.

Diverticulitis – small hernias of the lining of the large intestinal tract caused by prolonged constipation

Irritable bowel syndrome – pain, flatulence and bloating of the abdomen

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