Lots of us have heard that we need to get more fibre into our diets, but what actually is dietary fibre?
Dietary fibre is a carbohydrate found in plants. Because it cannot be fully digested by our body, it does not contribute any calories to our diet and even provides health benefits. Read on to learn about the benefits of fibre related to our gut and overall health.
- What is dietary fibre?
- What are the benefits of dietary fibre?
- How much fibre do I need?
- 23 High fibre foods
What is dietary fibre?
When you see dietary fibre on a food label, it refers to a group of indigestible carbohydrates found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and pulses. There are several different categories of complex compounds that are classified as dietary fibre, including:1
- Resistant starches
Fibre is often categorised into two different types: soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibres are fermented in the gut while insoluble fibres add bulk with limited fermentation.
What are the benefits of dietary fibre?
There are many health benefits of dietary fibre, and most are related to its indigestibility by the gut. High levels of fibre intake are linked with a reduced risk of many chronic health issues. High fibre diets may be linked to the following benefits:
High levels of fibre in the diet (especially from whole grains) have shown a positive impact on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease.2,3
Insulin and blood sugar control
Research supports a lower risk of blood sugar control related issues and insulin sensitivity4
Many studies show links of high fibre diets and successful weight loss; fibre digests slowly, which can help us feel full and prevent overeating1,4
Soluble fibre can slow digestion and keep us feeling fuller, longer, while insoluble fibre can speed up digestion. Fermentable (or soluble) fibres support the healthy bacteria in our gut and insoluble fibres help support regularity.1
Immune system health
Fermentation of soluble fibre in the gut leads to high levels of bifidobacteria, which stimulates the immune system.5
How much fibre do I need?
Adults need approximately 14g of fibre per 1000 calories in their diet. This equivalates to an average of 35g per day for men at 25g per day for women. If you’re currently eating significantly less than the target amount, aim to increase your fibre intake slowly over a few weeks’ time to avoid any digestive upset.
23 High fibre foods
- Brussels Sprouts
- Brown Rice
Take home message
While dietary fibre boasts many health benefits, the foods that are high in fibre can also support many aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Nutritious, plant-based foods that are high in fibre can easily be incorporated into any meal or snack and help keep you healthy.