What is fibre?The health benefits of fibre vary. Soluble or insoluble, fermentable and viscous (from psyllium, oats, guar gum) are all characteristics that determine the effect that the ithas on promoting good health. To get the benefits of maximum benefits, it is important to consume fibre from a variety of sources. Soluble fibre is also fermentable. It helps to slow down digestion, balance gut microbiota and help you feel full longer. It includes legumes (beans, lentils, peas), fruit (blueberries, apples, nectarines, strawberries), oatmeal, bran, barley, chia seeds guar gum and psyllium (which is 70% soluble and 30% insoluble). Insoluble fibre does not dissolve. It helps to form your stools and therefore also helps to move food through your digestive tract for easy elimination. Sources include green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery and carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Also some grains, wheat bran, rye, brown rice, barley, wholemeal pasta, quinoa and flaxseed. Many dietary sources provide both soluble and insoluble fibre.
What are the health benefits of including fibre in your diet?
- Good digestive health
- Improved bowel function
- Better absorption of nutrients
- Improved immune function and reduction of inflammation
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Maintenance of healthy body weight and assistance in weight loss
- Appetite control
- Cholesterol management
- Diabetes management
- Enhanced protection against colon cancer
How do you get a balance of fibre?A good rounded wholesome diet, including a variety of fruit and vegetables, along with the foods listed above under soluble and insoluble fibre will provide good digestive and overall health. In a recent article Dietary fibre and prebiotics – why do we need them?, recommendations were given on easy ways to increase this important nutrient in your diet.
How much fibre should you include in your diet?The Australian Government, Ministry for Health’s, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand recommends the following:
- 14g per day for 1 to 3 year olds
- 18g per day for 4 to 8 year olds
- 24g for boys 9 to 13 years
- 28g for boys 14 to 18 years
- 20g for girls 9 to 13 years
- 22g for girls 14 to 18 years
- 30g per day for men 19 years and older
- 25g per day for women 19 years and older