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Dietary Fibre - The critical importance of this macronutrient

By Jake Biggs, Nutrition Longevity

Dietary fibre, the essential component for proper functioning of the gut with adequate intake to be related to the risk of onset of chronic diseases including cancer, diverticular disease, heart disease and diabetes. A must for the digestive system!

What is dietary fibre?

Dietary fibre is the indigestible components of plant based foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes. Fibre is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine.

What will be achieved with adequate dietary fibre in the diet?

• Assist in regular bowel movements

• Increases the weight and size of the faces (stool) with also softening it, reducing risk of the onset of haemorrhoids

• Assists with satiety (help keeping fuller for longer)

• Improves cholesterol levels and blood sugar regulation

• Prolongs longevity

• Aids in maintaining healthy weight

What is involved with eating a healthy high dietary fibre diet?

Incorporating a variety of plant based foods will assist in maintaining a high fibre diet. These include:

• Variety of wholegrain food sources eg: brown rice, oats, barley, polenta and buckwheat

• 2 fruits daily and minimum 5 servings of vegetables per day

• Choosing wholegrain, wholemeal and high fibre varieties of grain based foods (instead of refined grains)

What are the specific areas to focus on?

• Incorporate vegetables as a large component of your meal

• Vary your grain and legume sources with trying various whole gran and bean food sources. These include kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, butter beans, soy beans, lentils and peas

• Swapping high energy, nutrient devoid foods with wholegrain rich foods

How much dietary fibre do we need each day? Acceptable intake as per the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines, 2019.

What are the different types of dietary fibre?

• Soluble fibre: Dissolves in water with slowing the emptying process in our stomach. This assists in feeling fuller for a longer duration with also assisting to lower cholesterol levels and maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Soluble fibre is abundant in fruits, vegetables, oats, barley, legumes and seeds.

• Insoluble fibre: Does not dissolve in water, absorbs water to assist soften the contents of the faeces (stool) and supporting regular bowel movements. It further assists to feel full for longer and keeping the gut microbiome healthy. Insoluble fibre is abundant in wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereal, nuts, seeds, wheat bran and especially the skin of fruits and vegetables.

• Resistance starch: Not absorbed or digested in the colon with proceeding to the large intestine where it provides fuel for healthy bacteria and improves bowel health. Various ways of cooking can create unique amounts of resistant starch. Resistant starch is abundant in undercooked wholemeal pasta, under ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potato as well as brown rice. Resistant starch is able to ferment, producing substances that assist keeping the lining of the bowel healthy.

Where do find the dietary fibre component on food labels?

What are nutrient dense high dietary fibre foods to incorporate into your diet?

I as a nutritional medicine practitioner believe (backed up with loads of scientific research) on the importance of optimal gut health for long term health and vitality. I certainly, with all my clients preach the importance of dietary fibre into daily dietary intake and my nutritional treatment plan ALWAYS incorporates high dietary fibre foods to meet daily requirements.

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