What Is The Importance Of Dietary Fibre?
‘Eat more fibre’ is something you must have heard plenty of times from your trainer or coach. But do you know why is it essential to consume a lot of Dietary Fibre? Found mainly in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, Dietary Fibres are known best for their ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But Dietary Fibre foods can also provide other health benefits such as lowering the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, some types of cancer and maintaining a healthy weight.
Let us explore Dietary Fibre at length and how it can benefit the human body in the long run-
What Is Dietary Fibre?
The unprocessed part of the food, mainly found in plants, that your human body can’t digest is called Dietary Fibre. It is a type of carbohydrate that adds mass to your diet and makes you feel satisfied faster, helping you control your weight gain. Dietary Fibre aids in digestion and helps avoid constipation. Some dietary fibre examples are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Dietary Fibres are also known as roughage or bulk and pass out relatively intact out of the human body, unlike other food components such as fats, carbohydrates or proteins, which your body breaks down and absorbs. There are two types of Dietary Fibre - Soluble Fibre and Insoluble Fibre.
Soluble Fibre And Insoluble Fibre
Soluble Fibre is a type of Dietary Fibre that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. This type of Dietary Fibre helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose. Soluble Fibre has a prebiotic effect, which means it provides nutrients to intestinal bacteria, protects intestinal mucosa, and ensures a healthy gut. These types of Dietary FIbre examples are-
- Fruits such as apples and pears
- Vegetables like carrots, artichokes and onions
- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils and black turtle beans
- Seeds like oats, flax and sunflower
Insoluble Fibre is a type of Dietary Fibre that does not absorb water and can’t be broken by gut enzymes. This type of Dietary fibre keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time and vitalises your digestive system. Insoluble Fibres are highly effective in preventing or treating constipation. These types of Dietary FIbre examples are-
- Whole Grains and Cereals
- Legumes like soybean
- Fruit and vegetable peels
- Nuts and seeds
The amount of Soluble Fibre and Insoluble Fibre is different in every plant-based food. To reap the healthy benefits of these Dietary Fibres, you must indulge in a high-fibre diet.
What Is The Importance Of Dietary Fibre In Your Diet?
Including Dietary Fibre foods in your diet can provide multiple health benefits. Let us have a look at them below-
Enhances Gut Health
A fibre-rich diet aids gut health and digestion. Including Dietary Fibre foods in your diet ensures regular bowel movements and helps you feel full for a longer period of time. A fibre-rich diet has also been proven to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Just remember to stay hydrated when indulging in a diet rich in Dietary Fibre.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
The Soluble Dietary Fibre found in beans, oats, flax seeds and oat bran may help lower cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterol levels in the body. Studies have also proven that Dietary Fibre foods may have other heart-health benefits like reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease
Consuming a fibre-rich diet is good for heart health. It can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and lowers cholesterol levels.
Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
In people with diabetes, a fibre-rich diet mainly containing Soluble Fibre, can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve and control blood sugar levels. A healthy diet consisting of Insoluble Dietary Fibre may also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Boosts Immune System
A healthy gut is closely associated with a healthy immune system. Including Dietary Fibre foods in your diet can enhance your immunity system. A fibre-rich diet feeds healthy microorganisms living in our digestive tract which build a healthy gut.
Dietary Fibre For Weight Loss
High-fibre foods tend to be more filling than foods low in fibre. Frequent consumption of Dietary Fibre foods from plants can reduce the risk of obesity. These foods take a long time to digest which keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. They also tend to have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Helps You Live A Long And Healthy Life
Studies suggest that enhancing your Dietary FIbre intake, especially cereal fibre, can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases that are common with increasing age and all cancers.
How Much Dietary Fibre Should Be Consumed Per Day?
Ideally, a healthy adult should consume 25g to 38 g of Dietary Fibre each day. Keep in mind to increase your fibre intake slowly and gradually to prevent bloating. It is also important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated to avoid constipation while consuming the suggested amount of Dietary Fibre foods.
What Should Athletes Consider When Consuming A Fibre-Rich Diet?
Athletes can also enjoy the benefits of a fibre-rich diet mentioned above. As an athlete, you should aim at covering your Dietary FIbre requirements with natural foods, rather than consuming nutritional supplements. Typical food for runners like whole grain pasta, oats, broccoli and fruits are a great source of Dietary Fibre. In sports, it is essential to eat your meal at a proper time. A fibre-rich provides athletes with many benefits, but it can also cause digestion issues such as feeling too full due to slow digestion or bloating. Everyone’s body handles Dietary Fibre foods differently. If you indulge in a high fibre meal before a workout, it can slow you down. It is best to consume carbohydrates before a workout to increase glycogen levels and give you an energy boost. Make sure to stick to carbs before indulging in a workout. It is also recommended that you reduce your Dietary Fibre intake on race days to avoid issues.
How You Can Plan Your High Dietary Fibre Meal On A Workout Day
Below is an example of how you can integrate Dietary Fibre foods into your workout days-
Breakfast: Oatmeal + apples + flax seeds + nut butter
Snack: Plain dairy or soy yogurt + berries
Lunch: Sandwich with hummus or cheese + baby spinach + tomatoes + cucumber on whole grain bread
Pre-workout Snack: Banana or slice of white bread + honey
Post-workout Snack: Protein shake
Dinner: Brown rice + vegetables + kidney beans + chicken or tofu.
Sources Of Dietary Fibre - Foods You Can Include In Your Fibre-Rich Diet
Below-mentioned are some of the great sources of Dietary Fibre that you can add to your fibre-rich diet-
Pears - 3.1 grams
Tasty and nutritious, the fruit pear is popular for its high fibre content. It is one of the best sources of Dietary Fibre with 3.1 grams of fibre per 100 grams.
Carrots - 2.8 grams
Root vegetable carrots are delicious, crunchy and highly nutritious. Not only are they one of the best sources of Dietary Fibre, but they are also rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and magnesium. You should definitely add carrot soup to your fibre-rich diet.
Lentils - 7.3 grams
Lentils are amongst the most nutritious foods and one of the best sources of Dietary FIbre. They are also high in protein and contain a lot of other important nutrients. Lentil soup spiced up with cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon will be a great addition to your fibre-rich diet.
Avocado - 6.7 grams
The unique fruit avocado is loaded with healthy fats instead of being high on carbs. Apart from being one of the greatest sources of Dietary Fibre, it is also rich in Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B and magnesium. Check out some healthy avocado recipes and include them in your fibre-rich diet.
Beets Or Beetroot - 2.8 grams
Beetroot is a root vegetable that is a host to many essential nutrients like folate, iron, copper, manganese and potassium. It is one of the best sources of Dietary Fibre and is loaded with nutrients beneficial for blood pressure regulation and exercise performance. Include a bowl of beetroot in your fibre-rich diet.
Kidney Beans - 6.8 grams
Another popular legume, kidney beans are one of the most beneficial sources of Dietary Fibre and are loaded with plant-based protein and nutrients.
Raspberries - 6.5 grams
Raspberries are loaded with Vitamin C and manganese. A fruit with a very strong flavour, it is one of the greatest sources of Dietary Fibre. You can incorporate it into your fibre-rich diet in the form of a smoothie.
Broccoli - 2.6 grams
High on Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, potassium, iron, antioxidants and cancer-fighting nutrients, the vegetable broccoli is the most nutrient-dense food you can find. A great source of Dietary fibre, it can be added to a salad or simply stir-fried.
Chickpeas - 7 grams
Chickpeas are popularly known as the base of hummus, one of the easiest spreads to make. A high source of Dietary Fibre, it is loaded with nutrients like minerals and proteins. You can include a chickpeas salad or hummus in your fibre-rich diet.
Oats - 10.1 grams
Over the past few years, oats have become a go-to choice for people for breakfast. Among the healthiest grain foods, they are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and one of the best sources of Dietary Fibre. They contain Soluble Fibre beneficial in maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Chia Seeds - 34.4 grams
Immensely popular among the health-conscious community, chia seeds contain huge amounts of magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. They can be ruled out as the single best source of Dietary Fibre with the high amount of fibre they contain.
Almonds - 13.3 grams
One of the most popular nuts, almonds contain healthy fat, manganese and magnesium. Switch to almond milk and reap the benefits of this source of Dietary Fibre.
Tips To Include More Dietary Fibre In Your Daily Life
It is possible that you might not be able to consume the necessary amounts of Dietary Fibre in your day to day life. Below suggested are some ideas that can help you intake more fibre-
Start Your Day With a Fibre-Rich Breakfast
Opt for a high-fibre breakfast cereal, 5 or more grams of fibre serving. Choose cereals with whole grains, bran or fibre.
Add Whole Grains To Your Diet
Look for bread that is made of whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or any other whole grain and have at least 2 grams of Dietary Fibre per serving. Try out dishes made of brown rice, barley and whole-wheat pasta.
Include Fibre-Rich Ingredients In Baked Goods
When baking, switch the white flour with whole-grain flour. Add crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or oatmeal in muffins, cakes and cookies.
Legumes are great sources of Dietary Fibre and a must-add to your fibre-rich diet. You can kidney beans to soups or green salads. Or you can indulge in nachos made of refried black beans, whole-wheat tortilla chips, ample vegetables and salsa.
Indulge In Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of Dietary Fibre. You can eat fruits in-between meals and consume vegetables as a salad along with your meals.
Binge On Healthy Snacks
Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, whole-grain crackers and low-fat popcorn are healthy choices for snacks. You can also include a handful of nuts or dried fruits that are high in fibre. We should be mindful of how much nut consumption and dried fruits consumption is done as they are high in calories.