Complicated jargon and conflicting information can overwhelm your path to a healthy, well-rounded diet. But few can argue against more fibre-rich meals—and for good reason. Ancient herbal and medicinal literature around the world testifies to fibre’s numerous healthy benefits. And modern science only supports these old-world claims.
As well as being a popular and well-studied topic of nutrition, experts often tout increasing your fibre intake to achieve your health goals—like weight loss and improved gut health, for example. You really can’t go wrong with gut-loving whole foods or a fibre powder.
To enhance your understanding of why it’s so important for health, let’s zoom in on a few of the nearly endless benefits of a fibre-rich diet.
Fibre is a natural ingredient in your diet. These digestion-resistant, plant-derived macromolecules are composed of the remnants of plant cell walls—and you’ll see them on ingredient lists with names like cellulose, beta-glucan, guar gum, pectin, inulin, and xanthan gum, to name a few. Natural sources of fibre—or “roughage”—are stars in a whole food diet.
While fibre may not be the sexiest health topic, it’s an important one. Women should consume around 25g of total fibre each day, while men should aim for 30g—but our diets often contain less than that. On average, most of us eat less than half of our recommended daily fibre intake.
The good news: consuming more of this health-lauded macromolecule is quite easy to do with everyday healthy foods. And for those who want added insurance, many supplements, like fibre powder, can fit seamlessly into your nutritional program to ensure you get the nutrition your body needs. Get creative as you find ways to reach your fibre goals.
Two Types of Fibre
As you eat, your body begins to break down nutrients through the process of digestion. Fibre, however, is characterised by its ability to resist digestion and remain mostly intact. And even though it doesn’t directly fuel your body, it still provides a wealth of health-boosting benefits.
Fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and bodily fluids, becoming a gel-like substance as it passes through the digestive system. And when it makes its way through your GI tract, it feeds the good gut bacteria.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in fluid—instead, it absorbs it. And as it goes to the colon, it sticks to material along the way to form stool, making it softer, bulkier, and ultimately more regular.
Buoy Your Health
Fibre is famous for supporting regular bowel movements and flushing out toxins—but it also boasts other serious, health-altering advantages. Here are five more benefits of consuming daily fibre that don’t disappoint:
- A healthy gut—One of the easiest ways to support a healthy microbiome is to feed your gut with beneficial prebiotics from plant sources. As fibre passes through your GI tract, it ferments to feed the healthy bacteria. Fibre also helps slow digestion, which allows your body to absorb nutrients more effectively.
- Blood sugar regulation—ingesting fibre slows sugar absorption in your diet and supports a healthy metabolism.
- Cardiovascular health—a fibre-rich diet can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries—and fibre can help remove it. In the gut, soluble fibre can bind to bile (which is made of cholesterol) to aid elimination.
- Weight management—filling your feeding hour with fibre-rich foods helps you feel fuller for longer. It slows digestion compared to simple starches and sugars, and most high-fibre foods have fewer calories overall. So pack your plate and enjoy the delicious benefit of reaching your personal weight-loss goals.
- Glowing skin—you heard that right! Your skin is a direct reflection of the health of your gut, and fibre is full of unexpected beauty benefits. In addition to supporting the good bacteria in your belly, fibre helps maintain the pH of your skin by balancing skin microbiota. And it packs an anti-inflammatory boost your complexion will thank you for.
Shop for Whole Foods
A fibre-rich diet is chock full of benefits. In general, more fibre means you’re consuming more protective agents—like antioxidants and phytochemicals that naturally support a diverse, gut flora-friendly diet. And a healthy gut will boost your overall health.
You’ll find both forms of fibre in most plant foods, so you can’t go wrong by packing your diet with delicious, natural ingredients your body will love. Next time you hit the store, consider adding these fibrous options to your shopping list:
- Whole grains like barley, oats, wheat bran, and whole-wheat flour
This buzzy nutrient is a popular topic for a reason. And natural sources are right in front of you, with a myriad of options to supplement. Fill up on fibre each day to optimise its many health-protective benefits—and enjoy your healthier lifestyle.