If there’s something that deserves as much mention as vitamins and minerals, it is fibre. We can commonly find fibre in the fruits and vegetables we eat. Not only does it ensure regular bowel movements, ingesting fibre also brings with it a host of other benefits. Guilty of not having enough fibre in your diet? Then, the following reasons should convince you to include more fibre in your diet and during mealtimes.
Maintaining gut health
Unlike the simple carbohydrates, protein and fats that are readily broken down and absorbed into our bloodstream, fibre remains largely undigested as it passes through the digestive system until it reaches the large intestine. Fibre functions as a prebiotic, upon which our intestinal bacteria, or ‘gut microbiome’ can feast and digest.
This is necessary for allowing intestinal bacteria to produce the short-chain fatty acids that sustain our colon lining. This bacteria defends against gut-inflammation complications, like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Nourishing the gut microbiome also aids our colon’s absorption of major nutrients (including Thiamin and Vitamin B12) into the bloodstream. Absorbing these nutrients helps to support our metabolism and immunity!
Promoting bowel movements
There’s also insoluble fibre, the other form of fibre that doesn’t dissolve in water and adds ‘bulk’ to our stool. Insoluble fibre, found mostly in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, seeds and nuts, normalises bowel movements. This means that it helps stools to pass easily (and painlessly) through the intestinal tract. Besides reducing strained bowel movements, such fibre also reduces the time that harmful substances in our food waste are in contact with the intestinal tract.
Maintaining cholesterol levels
On the other hand, soluble fibre is a gel-like substance that plays a role in slowing down the rate that sugar from digested food is absorbed into the bloodstream. You may have seen the term “Low G.I”, or “Low Glycemic Index”, on the packaging of certain oats and breads. A low glycemic index indicates that such foods are more capable of regulating our blood sugar levels. This makes fibre a necessary ally for all the sweet-tooths among us and consuming foods with high soluble-fibre content (such as peas, beans, apples and oranges) is important for maintaining a healthy heart.
Managing calorie intake
Having trouble managing your calorie intake? Foods that are rich in fibre are more ‘filling’ in our stomachs as compared to lower-fibre meals of similar volume because they are largely indigestible. Food items like broccoli, legume and wholemeal oats stay in our stomach for longer, giving our digestive system ample opportunity to send necessary signals to the brain that we are indeed ‘full’. This allows us to feel satiated from our meals, rather than foraging around the pantry to fill the extra space in our bellies. Maintaining a habit of healthy caloric consumption will ward off risks of obesity and diabetes in the long term.
if you require help with your diet, you may consider seeking medical advice. Teleconsult a GP on the WhiteCoat app to skip the clinic queue and avoid unnecessary contact with other individuals. Click here for more information on our GP teleconsult service, or click here to go back to the blog.