Fibre is vital to our health and wellbeing. It is recommended that adults in the UK get around 30g of dietary fibre each day. But our average intake is only just over half of this.
But why is it so necessary? Maybe you’re ‘regular’ anyway so don’t think you need to eat fibre but you really do!
If we don’t eat fibre rich foods once in a while and exist on a diet of ultra processed foods, takeaways and not a lot of veg we might still go to the loo fine – but do we?
Let’s think of our colon as a corridor or hallway in a house that has lots of rooms coming off that hallway. The front door is at the end of the hallway – tho if we’re talking about it as a colon maybe that should really be the back door 😉!
When we don’t eat enough fibre the waste from the food we’ve eaten gets pushed down the hallway towards the door but bits escape into each room. It gets stuck in the rooms and doesn’t get thrown away. Each time this happens more and more food waste goes into these rooms and can’t escape out the door. This builds and builds until the rooms are crammed full of rubbish and waste but the hallway is lovely and clear because you’re ‘regular’.
Imagine if this was bin liners full of food waste and rubbish in an actual house and how much over time they would begin to rot, ferment, stink and generally make your house very unpleasant to live in! That’s what happens in our gut if we don’t eat enough fibre.
How do we solve this?
Now, do you remember those amazing caretaker brooms they used to have at school? They had handles and could swivel and bend and would find rubbish from all the corners of the classroom. I always wanted to have a go at using one! Sad I know!
When we eat fibre rich foods the fibre behaves like one of these amazing brooms. The fibre broom sweeps into all the rooms, going into the corners, collecting all the rubbish that’s lurking there. It clears out all of the rooms and gets it all into the hallway. Each room gets a thorough sweeping and, eventually, all the rooms will be clear and all the rubbish will be sent on its way through the door
In basic terms more fibre = cleaner rooms = a healthier gut and better health in general.💩
Your tummy will feel less grouchy, your skin will be clearer and look better, your whole body will feel less toxic and you will REALLY notice the difference in your general health and wellbeing.
So what is fibre and how can we eat more?
The term ‘fibre’ refers to all parts of plant based foods that can’t be digested or absorbed by the body. It is a complex carbohydrate and won’t raise our blood sugar.
There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. We need a mixure of both to keep our gut healthy and happy. Some foods contains both types but we need the right mix from a variety of foods.
But how do they work together and is it complicated for us to get both kinds? It’s not that complicated honestly. Don’t feel overwhelmed, just read on…
When we eat soluble fibre rich foods the fibre dissolves easily in water and gastric fluid and turns to a gel like substance in the stomach which slows our digestion so that our body has time to absorb the nutrients. It also makes us feel fuller for longer.
This soluble kind can be found in oats, barley, psyllium, hazelnuts, seeds (sunflower, flax and chia), beans (particularly black beans) and chickpeas – which contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
The vegetables that contain the highest amount are carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts.
The richest fruits are apples, pears, citrus fruits and berries (particularly raspberries and blackberries).
Soluble fibre has many other benefits besides making us feel fuller and lowering blood sugar.
- As a thick gel substance it blocks fat that would otherwise be digested and absorbed.
- It helps to lower bad cholesterol.
- Because soluble fibre decreases fat absortion it can reduce the riskof heart disease and circulatory conditions.
- Soluble fibre rich foods are fermentable in the colon so they feed good gut bacteria so they help friendly bacteria to live longer.
Insoluble fibre behaves very differently. It doesn’t break down at all and stays more or less intact as it passes through our digestive tract. Because it is not digested at all it has very few calories.
It can be found in whole grains, whole wheat and bran products, peanuts, fruits with skins on like plums, peaches & apricots and vegetables like green beans, cauliflower and potatoes. It can also be found in grains like quinoa and pumpkin, chia & sesame seeds.
This type of fibre doesn’t break down so it sits in the digestive system and binds with the gel like soluble fibre. This speeds up elimination so by combining with soluble fibre it can help to prevent constipation.
By preventing constipation and intestinal blockages insoluble fibre helps to reduce diverticular disease and hemorrhoids and lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.
A Great Combination
You can see that these two types work together to keep our digestive systems in tip top condition. The thing that both types need to activate them is water and the more the better as it keeps everything lubricated and working efficiently.
How Do We Get Enough Of The Right Kind?
Information on how to build the perfect plate of food can be mindblowing. If you want no nonsense advice on assembling the perfect plate of food plus recipes and meal plans that contain all the right amounts of nutrients, you need look no further.
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