What is fibre?
So let’s start with what fibre actually is. Fibre (or roughage) is an essential part of our diet that can be found only in plants.
Other foods like meat and dairy cannot provide your body with dietary fibre.
Why is fibre so important?
Foods high in fibre play a key role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. The main purpose of dietary fibre is to help your digestive system work properly.
So it is important to consume the right amount of dietary fibre in your diet to ensure bowel regularity.
Health Benefits Of Fibre
Cut Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk
It’s a well-established fact. A recent analysis of 19 studies, for example, found that people who ate the most fiber—more than 26 grams a day—lowered their odds of the disease by 18 percent. Compared to those who consumed the least (less than 19 grams daily).
The researchers believe that it’s fiber’s one-two punch of keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeping you at a healthy weight that may help stave off the development of diabetes.
Dietary fiber, including fiber added to foods, can help reduce constipation by adding bulk to the stool.
Bulky feces move through the gut faster, resulting in an increased stool weight and improved regularity.
Stool consistency, stool weight and frequency of defecation are indicators of colonic function.
Increased bulking and decreased transit time are considered as the most widely known beneficial effects of dietary fibers in general.
Different kinds of dietary fiber can have different bulking capacities, depending on the underlying mechanism.
Poorly fermented fibers add bulk and, in some cases, add bulk by increasing water binding. Fermentable dietary fibers provide a bulking effect mainly due to increased bacterial mass.
Lower Your Odds of Heart Disease
For every 7 grams of fiber eaten daily, your risk of heart disease drops by 9 percent found a review of 22 studies published in the BMJ.
That’s partly due to fiber’s ability to sop up excess cholesterol in your system and ferry it out before it can clog your arteries.
Increased Insulin Sensitivity
Resistant starch from foods as well as isolated from high amylase corn has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
Researchers are suggesting that fermentation in the large intestine may be contributing to this benefit.
As the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by the fermentation of certain fibers triggers the production of hormones related to insulin sensitivity and elicits shifts in metabolism within the intestinal tract by up-regulating the production of hormones important to lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
Reduce Your Risk of Certain Cancers
Every 10 grams of fiber you eat is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a 5 percent fall in breast cancer risk, says a study published in the Annals of Oncology.
In addition to the anti-cancer effects of fiber, the foods that contain it—like veggies and fruits—are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that could further reduce your odds, notes Sheth.
Regularity can be defined as the regular (eg, daily) elimination of bulky/soft/easy-to-pass stools and can be assessed by determining both stool output (assessed as grams of stool per day or per week) and stool water content (%).
Insoluble fiber can improve regularity by stimulating the large bowel to increase secretion of water and mucous while soluble gel-forming fibers increase the water-holding capacity of stool.
Both fibers increase stool water content and result in bulky/soft stools that are easy to pass.
While consuming the recommended daily intake of fiber is associated with numerous health benefits, no single fiber provides all benefits. A variety of fibers are needed every day for the body to function well.
How Much Fiber Should I Consume?
The recommended intake for women is a minimum of 25 grams per day, whereas for men it is a minimum of 38 grams per day.
More is not necessarily better. Excessive amounts of fiber can lead to GI distress, impaired nutrient absorption, and unintended weight loss. If you’re continuously full, it’s hard to eat enough!
How To Increase Daily Fiber Intake
If you’re not eating enough fiber at the moment, have no fear, as there are many delicious high-fiber foods to choose from.
Start with one meal, and swap in a high-fiber source—say, brown rice for white rice.
Then, start increasing your vegetable intake, one meal at a time, until you’re at 4-5 servings per day. Slow and steady is the key; otherwise, you may suffer cramps, excessive bloating, and gas.
Excellent Sources Of Fiber
- Soluble Fiber: Oats, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables
- Insoluble Fiber: Whole-grains such as wheat and popcorn, fruits and vegetables (with peels)
When you increase your fiber intake, you should increase your fluid intake, too.
Without adequate fluids, fiber can actually increase constipation and impede digestion.