Updated: Aug 24
We all know that maintaining a healthy diet is important - it’s old news. But one component of our diets that often gets overlooked is fibre. Fibre is an absolutely crucial component of a healthy diet; incorporating more of it into your meals can provide numerous benefits for your health, far beyond the digestive ones. In this article, we will discuss the reasons to increase your fibre intake and look at its general benefits to your health.
1. Fibre and digestive health
Fibre offers a multitude of advantages, and among the most notable is - you guessed it - its positive influence on digestive health.
By regulating your bowel movements, fibre can mitigate digestive issues, also reducing your likelihood of developing various digestive disorders. Fibre is also critical in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, which - as the scientific community moves forward with research - is being linked to increasing health benefits that will quite simply blow your mind.
The gut microbiome is home to trillions of microorganisms that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, support the immune system, and even influence mental health. By incorporating fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains into your diet, you can promote digestive health and boost your overall well-being.
2. Fibre and heart health
Apart from aiding in digestion, fibre also plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health. This might be one that you haven’t heard much about before.
Specifically, fibre can effectively reduce cholesterol levels, primarily the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is commonly known as the bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and therefore, adding more fibre to your diet can be a simple yet effective way to prevent heart related illnesses.
On top of all of that, a diet high in fibre (especially soluble fibre found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and more) can help lower blood pressure and inflammation. Both of these are key factors in promoting heart health.
3. Fibre and blood sugar control
Fibre also offers the great added advantage of positively affecting blood sugar control. It functions by hindering the quick absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, resulting in the prevention of spikes in blood sugar levels.
Of course, this characteristic is hugely beneficial for people living with diabetes since, maintaining steady blood sugar levels is critical for managing the condition. By consuming adequate amounts of fibre-rich foods, individuals can regulate their blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of complications.
4. Fibre and weight management
Did you know that fibre can actually assist in weight management? Fibre is actually a very valuable addition to your diet if you're trying to manage your weight. High-fibre foods are typically low in calories whilst also provide a feeling of fullness. Resultantly, you’ll feel full (of the right stuff) for longer, helping you curb overeating and support weight loss goals.
Those looking to increase their fibre intake for this reason could start eating more foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, all of which are excellent sources.
But it doesn’t stop there. Fibre may also help promote gut health by nourishing beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. In doing so, your body will achieve better metabolic regulation and potentially assist with weight loss.
How to Incorporate More Fibre into Your Diet
Convinced? Now that we’ve the reasons to increase your fibre intake, you may be wondering how to incorporate more of the good stuff into your diet. Experts recommend a daily fibre intake of 25-30 grams for adults, but studies show that most individuals fall short of this recommendation. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to do. Some simple ways to increase your fibre intake include:
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet: Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, with a variety of colours to ensure that you are getting a diverse range of nutrients. Include them as a side dish or snack, or even blend them into a smoothie.
Choosing whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta: Whole grains have more fibre and other essential nutrients than refined grains. Therefore, it's advisable to replace white bread, rice, and pasta with whole grain alternatives.
Incorporating legumes such as beans and lentils into your meals: Legumes are versatile and can be included in soups, stews, salads, and side dishes. You can also use them as a meat substitute in vegetarian meals.
Snacking on nuts and seeds: These offer a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fibre, making them a perfect snack choice. However, if you’re watching your weight right now, keep in mind that nuts and seeds are also calorie-dense.
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