Fibre may not give us much in terms of nutrients, but it plays an important role in digestive health. Sameer Bharde tells you its benefits and ways in which you can include more fibre in your diet
The old adage “Eat more fibre!” still stands true. We have all heard it, and for good reason. Dietary fibre is vital for many conditions that can afflict your body. From preventing constipation to maintaining a healthy weight and lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease, dietary fibre is crucial for a healthy body. Fibre is only found in plant-based foods; meat, fish and dairy products do not contain fibre.
Dietary fibre comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble fibre, and both have their range of benefits. It is important to add foods that provide your body with both these kinds of fibre, as together they help keep your body functioning smoothly. Here we tell you about the benefits of dietary fibre and how to include more of it in your daily meals.
- Maintains intestinal health: Recent research has linked dietary fibre to gut health. Your gut is always at war with different microbes found in foods and the fibre helps the beneficial microbes in your intestinal tract to limit the expansion of the harmful ones, helping your body fight off illnesses.
- Promotes healthy bowel movements: Fibre is a great source of roughage that helps your bowel movements through the day. It helps resolve many issues related to constipation and also helps you to recover quickly from bouts of diarrhoea and other stomach illnesses.
- Checks cholesterol levels: Maintaining a diet rich in fibre results in less cholesterol being absorbed in your blood stream through the intestine. So, it is natural that having more fibre in your diet will reduce your total cholesterol in your blood, especially the bad kind. Fibre also helps to reduce blood pressure, so it is good for your heart as well.
- Keeps sugar levels under control: Soluble fibre, in particular, helps people suffering from diabetes to keep their sugar levels in check. Fibre slows down the absorption of sugar in the gut and helps improve sugar levels in the blood. Also, dietary fibre is thought to reduce chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Helps maintain healthy weight Foods that are high in fibre tend to keep you feeling full for longer, helping you eat less and feel satiated for a longer period of time. Foods high in fibre also take more energy to eat and are less dense with calories. Both these benefits help you keep a check on your weight.
FOODS HIGH IN FIBRE
- Cooked lentils
- Trail mix, nuts and seeds
- Chia seeds
- Cooked whole grains
- Cooked corn
Wondering how you can get more fibre in your diet? There are many simple changes that you can make to add fibre to your diet.
Choose a meal that’s high in fibre at the start of the day. Pick cereals made from whole grain or bran. You can also add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favourite cereal to increase your meal’s fibre content.
If you love cakes and other baked goodies, then substitute whole-grain flour for at least half, or even all the white flour that you use while baking. You can also use crushed bran cereal, wheat bran or oatmeal in muffins, cookies and cakes.
Peas, lentils and beans are great sources of fibre. Add kidney beans to a green salad or eat nachos with black beans, whole-wheat tortilla chips and fresh vegetables to increase the fibre content in your favourite meals.
DON’T FORGET THE SNACKS!
Snacks are an easy way to lose focus on your diet. Opt for fruits, raw vegetables or low-fat popcorn as snacks. A handful of nuts and seeds is also a good option to add fibre to your diet, but remember not to go overboard as they are high in calories.
USE WHOLE GRAINS
The next time you go shopping for bread, pick up ones that are made from whole wheat or whole grain. Instead of sticking to white rice, switch to brown rice. And, if you love pasta, pick up the whole-wheat variety for a healthy dose of fibre.