WRITTEN BY Dr. Joyce Johnson- 27 April 2012
Many of us have heard about the benefits of dietary fibre but are we getting enough of it?
Studies have shown that a diet high in fibre helps to reduce the risk of digestive and bowel diseases, stabilize blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss. There are two types of dietary fibre to choose from, soluble and insoluble, and it is important to eat both!
Soluble fibre helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and, by slowing the absorption of glucose in our bloodstream, it can help to control appetite. Researchers also note that a high rate of insulin production over time can contribute to Type 2 diabetes. Insoluble fibre helps to maintain a healthy digestive system; it absorbs large amounts of water, which bulks stool and decreases the transit time of waste through the intestinal tract. Insoluble fibre also helps prevent constipation and reduces the symptoms of digestive and bowel diseases.
Professional health organizations recommend a daily fibre intake of 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams daily for men. Unfortunately, the average Canadian consumes only 12 grams a day or less.
Tips on how to increase your daily fibre intake:
- Choose whole grain bread over white bread.
- Snack on almonds, rye or whole-wheat crackers rather than processed, unhealthy snacks such as potato chips.
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Pair cereal or oatmeal with an apple or a banana for a high-fibre breakfast.
- Incorporate beans, lentils and brown rice into soups and casserole dishes. One cup of brown rice has 11 grams of fibre, and one cup of cooked black beans has 19.4 grams.
- Read your food labels and always choose products with the highest fibre content.
- Most foods contain a mix of fibres, so make sure you choose a variety of fibre-rich choices from the different food groups to reach your target.
Fibre is really important for a healthy diet but it is important to note this rule of thumb when introducing more fibre: start low and go slow! A quick and significant increase in fibre intake may result in bloating, gas or abdominal pain. Ensure you are drinking plenty of water and slowly increase your consumption of fibre.
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