No one really thinks of fibre as something they enjoy eating plenty of but if you make space for it in your diet, you’re inviting a host of different benefits.
What is fibre?
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate. Unlike those you usually think of, fibre cannot be broken down by the human digestive system. Instead, it travels through the gut undigested. This is actually a good thing!
There are two main types of fibre to consider – soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is fibre that absorbs a lot of water, whereas insoluble fibre does not. Both are essential nutrients within a healthy diet, but each offers unique benefits.
Benefits of fibre
For something we don’t actually digest and absorb, fibre has a lot of linked benefits. In general, good fibre intake has been linked to:
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Increased satiety
- Reduced risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Improvement in digestive complaints such as constipation
- Enhanced immunity
- Enhanced weight loss for those attempting to lose weight
- Increased diversity of the gut microbiome
When it comes to specific benefits, soluble fibre may be able to reduce blood cholesterol and aid with blood sugar regulation. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stools, making bowel movements easier.
Fibre-rich foods to add
Ready to boost your fibre intake? Some of the best fibre sources in your diet might include:
- Fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, avocado, apples and pears
- Vegetables such as sweet potato, Brussel sprouts, artichoke, tomato, beetroot, broccoli, kale and spinach
- Legumes and beans such as lentils, chickpeas, split peas and kidney beans
- Nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts
- Seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and popped corn
You can also add fibre into your diet with supplements. However, I don’t recommend doing so without the supervision of a qualified naturopath or nutritionist.
Too much fibre can be a problem
If you over-consume any nutrient, problems can arise. This goes for fibre as well. Excessive amounts of fibre can cause digestive complaints such as pain, bloating and gas. Fibre is also able to bind to minerals and could increase the risk of mineral deficiencies.
Try this Nutty Muesli recipe for a fibre-packed, protein dense and healthful fat breakfast alternative.
4 cups rolled oats (use quinoa flakes for a gluten free option
4 cups puffed brown rice
2 cups puffed millet or quinoa
⅔ cup brown linseeds
4 handfuls raw sunflower seeds
¾ cup green pumpkin pepitas
2 cups roughly chopped raw almonds
¾ cup roughly chopped raw hazelnuts
1 cup roughly chopped raw cashews
½ cup raw walnuts, lightly crushed in your hands
1½ cups organic, preservative free shredded coconut
¼ cup raw honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil
Preheat fan-forced oven to 150°C.
Melt honey, olive and coconut oils together in a saucepan over a very low heat for about 5 mins or until warm, liquid and well combined.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the grains, nuts, seeds and flaked coconut together by hand. Once the warm honey-oil blend is ready, pour slowly over the dry ingredients, mixing rapidly until well combined.
Split the mixture between two baking dishes or roasting pans, ensuring not to pack the mixture down tight. Place in the oven and bake for 30 mins, making sure you turn over the ingredients with a large spoon and rotate the pans after each 10 mins.
Once the mixture is slightly browned, take out of the oven and allow to cool on bench.
Store in an airtight container until ready to be served. Can be stored this way for several weeks.