We’re well into the winter months and we’ve spoken a lot about immunity and how to keep well during the colder months. We’d like to bring it back to basics and talk about stable nutritional components. This month, let’s talk about fibre – what it is, different types, where to find it and why it’s important for health and wellbeing.
Dietary fibre, or roughage, is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by the digestive system. It includes compounds such as cellulose (cast your mind back to biology, cellulose is found in all plant cell walls), beta-glucans (the predominant fibre in oats) and pectins (you might have heard of these when making jam, pectins are a fibre found in many fruits).
Another type of fibre is called resistant starch – this is great for our microbiome as it supports the beneficial bacteria. It can be found in underripe (green) bananas, legumes and cooked potatoes that have been left to cool.
Government guidelines published in 2015 state that our dietary fibre intake should be around 30g per day – this can come from sources such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds. Some of the most nutritious sources of fibre include blueberries, sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussell sprouts, wild rice, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts. Psyllium husk is also an excellent supplemental form of fibre.
Fibre has various benefits for the body, the main pertaining to the maintenance of gut motility. Fibre has also been shown to support cardiovascular health. This is because fibre in the diet helps to naturally eliminate cholesterol by binding to it within the gut and eliminating it through the bowels.
Fibre also supports healthy blood glucose levels, meaning it’s an important part of a satisfying meal and also supports heart health.
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