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Fibre…The Bulk of the Truth

Fibre

Fibre... The Bulk of the Truth

Fibre... what is it and what is it good for? Perhaps you have heard that you should eat a diet high in fibre but do you really know why it is so beneficial for your body? Fibre is found in many products and is a type of carbohydrate which you body cannot digest. There are also 2 types of fibre... soluable (breaks down in water) or non-soluble (doesn't dissolve). Both are essential in the diet and on average most people only eat approximately 15g of fibre a day. In a recent study by Reynolds, A. et. al (2019), it showed that if 1000 people switched from a low (under 15g) to a high fibre (25-29g) diet, it would prevent an astounding six cases of heart disease and thirteen deaths!!!

Fibre has been linked with helping conditions such as constipation, heart disease, some cancers and hemorrhoids with insoluble fibre keeping the large intestine healthy by attaching to waste, absorbing 15x its own weight and making it easier for the waste to pass through the system. Importantly, you must also drink your daily requirement of water to help the process along... if not you may risk constipation, bloating or other effects. On a side note.... to work out how much water you should be drinking per day, an easy calculation is to multiply your weight x 0.03 (if you exercise of course this will be increased).

So we've spoken about insouble fibre, so what exactly does soluble fibre do for your body? It can reduce levels of bad "LDL" cholesterol as it binds with it, removing it from bloodstream and also aids in stabilising blood sugar levels as its presence slows the absorption of fats and sugars in the blood.

So you may ask where is fibre found? It is only found in plant foods such as apples, bananas, pasta, bread and breakfast cereals and did you know that you should be eating at least 25g per day? When breaking it down further to exactly how much fibre common foods contain: 2 x weetbix - 3g, a slice of brown bread - 2g, cooked lentils (1 cup) - 4g, an apple (skin on) - 4g and potato (skin on) - 2g. Fibre is just one component of a product, if a product does not contain fibre, it will not be listed on the nutrition panel. Eating too much fibre can also be detrimental so aiming to stick to 25-30g per day is a good healthy goal.

In an article written by Cox, P. (2002), he found that 100 years ago 15% of the daily caloric intake was made up of meat, sugar and fat where as today it is approximately 60%. Over this time fibre intake has reduced 90%! So to ensure you are receiving adequate intake of fibre in your diet, aim for at least 3 grams of fibre for what is considered a "good" serve and over 5 grams for an "excellent" serve. On a side note, if you follow low carbohydrate diets it can be extremely difficult to receive the recommended daily intake of fibre so be warey!

References: 
Cox, Peter. You Don’t Need Meat. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002
Lehnardt, K. 45 Interesting Facts about Fiber. [online]. 2016 
Gallagher, J. The lifesaving food 90% aren't eating enough of. [online]. 2019

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