Fibre Finesse: Unveiling the Benefits and Delights of a High-Fibre Di…

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In simple terms, fibre is a type of carbohydrate that passes through your body without being digested. There are two types of fibre; soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. We can think of soluble fibre as a gel – when digested, it forms into a gel-like substance. On the other hand, insoluble fibre adds bulk to our stools and aids healthy bowel movements.

Modern food processes often remove the fibrous wheat germ and bran from grains, resulting in a ‘refined carbohydrate’ – a term you may have heard before. Refined carbohydrates are easier for the body to digest, however, this can result in unstable energy levels.

 

Where is fibre found?

Fibre is found in high quantities in fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts & seeds, and the ‘brown’ versions of grains – brown rice, brown pasta, and brown or seeded breads.

 

Why is fibre important to include in the diet?

Nutrition research indicates that a high-fibre diet can improve bowel health, lower one's risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (due to improved blood sugar control and lowered cholesterol levels), and may help achieve weight loss. In terms of the effect of fibre on our body and energy levels, it often helps to think of high-fibre foods as a ‘dripping tap’ and refined foods as a ‘running tap’.

Due to their inability to be properly digested, foods that are higher in fibre can aid in the digestion of other foods, by helping to slow down the release of energy into the bloodstream. This results in more stable energy levels – hence the dripping tap.

Have you ever found yourself to be irritable, or surprisingly hungry after a bowl of fruit loops, or slice of pizza? Refined carbohydrates – found in confectionary, sugary drinks, white bread, white rice, and white pasta – hit the bloodstream quickly, often resulting in a spike of energy, followed by a crash. 

Coming back to our tap analogy, refined carbohydrates tend to ‘dump’ energy into the bloodstream, like a tap in full force. When we consume fibre however, it puts the brakes on digestion; the energy from our food is delivered to the bloodstream in smaller, more manageable amounts. 

 

What foods are high in fibre?

Let’s separate this into soluble and insoluble fibre. Foods that are high in soluble (gel-like) fibre include foods such as oats, peas, legumes, fruits, carrots and psyllium. Insoluble fibre is found in whole-wheat flours, the skin of fruits and vegetables, multi-grain bread, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and nuts & seeds. Both types of fibre have distinct benefits and should be included as part of a healthy diet; soluble fibre helps to control our blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and insoluble fibre promotes bowel health, ensuring we are regular. 

 

How can I get more fibre into my diet?

A great way to get more fibre into the diet is by making small tweaks to the foods which are already a part of your habitual routine. Try swapping out white rice for brown, for example, or whole-grain bread instead of white bread.

There are also countless opportunities throughout the day to squeeze in more fruit and vegetables. Consider replacing one daily snack with a piece of fruit, or adding more vegetables to dishes such as pasta and curries. Also – always eat your peels!

 

Expert tip: Some evidence shows that when a potato is cooked and then cooled, the structure of the carbohydrate changes, increasing the amount of ‘resistant starch’. Cooled potato (with the skin on) is a great way of getting in some fibre – think potato salad!

 

Will it result in digestive issues if I increase the amount of fibre in my diet?

The short answer is no, not in regular quantities. Some of us struggle with consuming high-fibre foods like cauliflower, cassava and cabbage. This is often associated with IBS, and these individuals will likely be recommended to trial a low-FODMAP diet to investigate the cause of their discomfort. Most of us however, will be able to cope with a high-fibre diet, with the fibre coming from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

If you find you have difficulty increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, or are experiencing symptoms of pain or discomfort, we recommend seeking the guidance of a doctor or dietician. 

To discover a wide variety of high-fibre options sign up at  www.myWellabee.com and explore the ‘high fiber’ tag.

 

References and Resources

British Nutrition Foundation – What is Fibre

Harvard School of Public Health – Fiber | The Nutrition Source

The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre [Research Article]

New Zealand Nutrition Foundation – Fibre

World Health Organisation – Healthy Diet


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