Is fibre really your friend?
YES!! Although fibre is known mainly for preventing or relieving constipation, fibre can also lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Pretty good deal!!
Ins and Outs of Fibre
Types of Fibre
Dietary fibre is the part of a plant food that your body cannot digest. It's found mainly in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Functional fibre is derived from plant or animal sources. They are added to foods or sold as pills or supplements. Examples of functional fibres are psyllium, inulin and oat B-glucan.
Both dietary and functional fibre can be soluble fibre or insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre helps control your body's blood sugar levels. It can also lower your blood cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre soaks up water, making your stool soft and bulky; this helps you have regular bowel movements and relieves constipation.
Both dietary and functional fibre may also protect you from duodenal ulcer and diverticular disease.
What is the Right Amount for You?
The table below highlights the amount of fibre you need every day.
Age (years) Males (grams/day) Females (grams/day)
1-3 19 19
4-8 25 25
9-13 31 26
14-18 38 26
19-50 38 25
Over 50 30 21
Pregnancy - 28
Include Fibre in Your Diet Slowly and Consume Plenty of Fluids
If you start eating lots of fibre too quickly, it can cause bloating and gas. Add fibre rich foods in your diet gradually until you reach the right amount for you. Increase your fluids as you eat more fibre-rich foods.
Shopping for Fibre in Your Grocery Store
One of the easiest ways to shop for fibre rich foods is to buy lots of vegetables and fruits (fresh, frozen or canned), whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
When shopping for processed and packaged food, look at the food label to see how much fibre is in the foods you are choosing. For example, the label on a food product shown below contains four grams (4 g) of fibre per serving (2 slices). This is a high fibre food choice. Always look for foods with 15% DV (Daily Value) for fibre as much as possible.
Secondly, look for food items that contain at least two grams (2g) of fibre per serving. You can look at the Nutrient Content Claim on the packaging. The more fibre, the better it is!
Below are the Nutrient Content Claims you will see on the package:
Source of fibre means the product contains at least two grams (2 g) of fibre per serving.
High source of fibre means the product contains at least four grams (4 g) of fibre per serving.
Very high source of fibre means the product contains at least six grams (6 g) of fibre per serving.
Enjoy Your Fibre in Foods You Eat, Not As Supplements
Fibre supplements usually contain only one kind of fibre and no other nutrients. They don't provide the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that foods do. If you enjoy fibre from a variety of fibre-rich foods food rather than as supplements, you're likely to get both soluble and insoluble fibre. Fibre in food is healthier and tasty!
Fabulous Fibre Foods
Functional fibre is added to some brands of milk, cheese, yogurt, bread, cereal and orange juice. Many more new foods may become available in the future.
Delicious Ways to Add Fibre
Buy whole grain breads and cereals. Add fruits like blueberries, strawberries or some sliced banana in your cereal bowl.
Include chickpeas and a variety of beans and lentils in your meals regularly. Add beans to soup, pasta or in a green salad.
Enjoy a variety of unpeeled fruits and vegetables in your cooking and when eating as a snack or in a salad.
Make snack count. Snack on high-fibre foods such as air-popped popcorn, raw vegetables, fruit, plain nuts and seeds.
Add bran in cooking and preparing baked products such as meatloaf, muffins, casseroles, cakes and cookies.
Sprinkle ground flax seed or nuts on your cereal, salad, desserts and low-fat yogourt.
The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle.