Fibre is found in plant-based foods only, and the human body is unable to digest. Fibre sources include fruit and vegetable skins, seeds and stalks, bran and husk of cereal grains, beans, legumes and nuts1,3.
There are 3 types of fibre;
1. SOLUBLE FIBRE
3. RESISTANT STARCH(a starch that has the same function as fibre).
It is good to consume to a healthy diet with a variety of foods to incorporate the different types of fibre and appreciate their health benefits1,3.
Soluble fibre forms a thick gluggy gel in the gut, which slows down digestion and absorption of food. Sources of soluble fibre include oats, oat brans, barley, barley bran, nuts, psyllium, legumes, fruit, vegetables, seeds and BARLEYmax1,3.
Insoluble fibre absorbs water to increase the bulk of stools and therefore prevents constipation. Sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, wheat based breakfast cereals, wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereal, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, fruits and vegetables1,3.
Resistant starch keeps the large bowel healthy by promoting the growth of good bacteria, and therefore reducing the risk of bowel cancer. Sources of resistant starch include firm bananas, custard apples, peas, corn, cold potatoes, lentils, legumes, oats, cracked wheat, wholegrain bread, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, barley, BARLEYmax and Hi-Maize1,3.
Role of fibre in health
Including fibre in your daily diet is important for health; it is recommended to consume at least 30g of fibre/day1.
Cholesterol: Soluble fibre plays a role in reducing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Diabetes: Soluble fibre slows down digestion of food; therefore it also slows down the breakdown of glucose in the small intestine. In turn, this slows down the release of glucose into the blood and promotes better diabetes management.
Weight management: Soluble fibre and wholegrains slow down digestion and promote satiety; therefore you are more likely to consume less food.
Constipation: Insoluble fibre prevents constipation by bulking and softening stools.
Diverticular disease: A low fibre diet is often the cause of diverticular disease. Increasing your daily fibre intake can prevent diverticular disease, however, during a diverticulitis flare-up a low fibre diet is required to manage symptoms. For more advice see you doctor or dietitian.
Colon cancer: A fibre high diet has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
How much fibre should we be having each day?
The table on the following page indicates how much fibre is in some of the foods we eat. A healthy amount of fibre we should consume is at least 30g of fibre/day1.
Click to enlarge
Tips for increasing fibre intake1-3
- Read nutrition information panels and look for >5g/100g of fibre.
- Aim for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day.
- Eat fresh whole fruits and vegetables instead of juice.
- Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables when eating.
- Add fruit and vegetables to muffins and cakes.
- Cut up vegetables for snacks e.g. carrot and celery sticks.
- Replace/reduce meat in stews, rissoles, casseroles, sauces and soups with vegetables, beans and legumes.
- Make salads with beans, brown rice, vegetables, wholemeal salad, wheat or barley.
- Use rolled oats to cover rissoles/patties, and processed beans and oat bran to thicken soups, sauces and casseroles.
- When baking use 50:50 white flour and wholemeal flour.
- Add wheat bran, rolled oats, dried and fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, nuts, almonds and Psyllium to breakfast cereals.
- The Dietitians Association of Australia, Fibre, viewed 14 March 2013
- Borushek, A 2011, Calorie Fat & Carbohydrate Counter, Family Health Publications, WA
- The Diabetes Centre, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2010, Dietary Fibre, viewed 14 March 2013