Home' Northern Outlook : March 16th 2013 Contents 7
NORTHERN OUTLOOK, MARCH 16, 2013
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Fibre vital part of a healthy diet
Psyllium husk: This is an excellent source of soluble fibre.
Healthy alternatives: Figs are a perfect example of a fibre source along with
being a sweet snack.
By RACHAEL RICKARD
Eat more fibre. You've probably
been told this. But do you know why
fibre is so good for your health?
Dietary fibre -- found mainly in fruits,
vegetables, whole grains and
legumes -- is best known for its
ability to prevent or relieve
constipation. But fibre has been
shown to promote laxation, a
reduction in blood cholesterol, and
it can help modulate blood glucose.
Dietary fibre, also known as
roughage or bulk, includes all parts
of plant foods that your body can't
digest or absorb. Unlike other food
components such as fats, proteins or
carbohydrates -- which your body
breaks down and absorbs -- fibre
isn't digested by your body. It passes
relatively intact through your
stomach, small intestine, colon and
out of your body. It might seem like
fibre doesn't do much, but it has
several important roles in
Fibre is commonly classified into
two categories: those that don't
dissolve in water (insoluble fibre)
and those that do (soluble fibre).
Insoluble fibre. This type of fibre
promotes the movement of material
through your digestive system and
increases stool bulk, so it can be of
benefit to those who struggle with
constipation or irregular stools.
Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts
and many vegetables are good
sources of insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre. This type of fibre
dissolves in water to form a gel-like
material. It can help lower blood
cholesterol and glucose levels.
Soluble fibre is found in oats, peas,
beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots,
barley and psyllium.
The amount of each type of fibre
varies in different plant foods. To
receive the greatest health benefit,
eat a wide variety of high-fibre
Increasing the fibre in your diet
has many health benefits, including:
Normalises bowel movements.
For some, fibre may help provide
relief from irritable bowel syndrome.
Helps maintain bowel integrity
and health. A high-fibre diet may
lower your risk of developing
haemorrhoids, and small pouches in
your colon. Some fibre is fermented
in the colon. Researchers are looking
at how this may play a role in
preventing diseases of the colon.
Lowers blood cholesterol levels.
Soluble fibre found in beans, oats,
flaxseed and oat bran may help
lower total blood cholesterol levels
by lowering low-density lipoprotein,
or ''bad'', cholesterol levels. Studies
have shown that increased fibre in
the diet can reduce blood pressure
and inflammation, which is also
good for heart health.
Helps control blood sugar levels.
Fibre, particularly soluble fibre, can
slow the absorption of sugar.
Aids in weight loss. High-fibre
foods generally require more
chewing time, which gives your
body time to register when you're
no longer hungry, so you're less
likely to overeat. Also, a high-fibre
diet tends to make a meal feel larger
and linger longer.
The recommended daily intake
(RDI) of fibre for adult men is 30
grams each day and for women is
25g each day (RDI for children,
pregnant and lactating women are
different -- visit nhmrc.govt.nz for
If you aren't getting enough fibre
each day, you may need to boost
your intake. Your best fibre choices
include: grains and whole-grain
products (try adding or substituting
unrefined grain flours into your
baked goods), fruits (try apples,
oranges, pears or berries for your
next snack), vegetables (pre-cut,
frozen, fresh -- all contain fibre),
beans, peas and other legumes (add
kidney beans to your soup), and
nuts and seeds (nuts are a nutritious
snack and seeds are great for
breakfast or in a salad).
Whole foods rather than fibre
supplements are generally better.
Fibre supplements -- such as
Metamucil -- don't provide the
vitamins, minerals and other
beneficial nutrients that high-fibre
foods do. However, some people
may still need a supplement if
dietary changes aren't sufficient, or if
they have certain medical
conditions. If unsure check with a
nutritionist, dietician or your doctor.
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