With so many pre-packaged snack foods and refined carbohydrates in the modern diet, many people never consume the amount of dietary fibre that is recommended for optimum health. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that consists of the indigestible portions of plant matter. There are two types of fibre. Soluble fibre can be dissolved in water; insoluble fibre cannot. Both play important roles in bodily functions. Here are three important reasons you should increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
Fibre and Cardiovascular Health
Medical studies have long supported the positive influence of fibre on heart and blood vessel health. Consuming adequate fibre on a consistent basis significantly reduces serum cholesterol levels. Lowered cholesterol lessens the risk of plaque build-up in arteries that leads to coronary artery disease. The disease process can develop over a long period of time without being detected until symptoms of advanced disease are evident. Untreated, it often results in heart attacks and strokes, some of which are fatal. Fibre has also been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies. Besides its direct effects on the cardiovascular system, fibre also helps to prevent metabolic conditions that are closely linked to heart disease.
Fibre and Metabolism
Diets high in fibre are associated with lower obesity rates. Fibre helps to manage body weight in several ways. Because it passes through the body slowly without being digested, it serves as a bulking agent. This means that high-fibre food choices help you to eat less in general and to feel fuller longer. Fibre also helps to control blood sugar spikes by slowing the digestion of simple carbohydrates. By doing so, it can help to both prevent pre-diabetic conditions in vulnerable individuals and help diabetics control their blood sugar more easily.
Fibre’s Gastrointestinal Effects
Fibre helps to move bulk smoothly through the intestines; this promotes regular bowel action and eliminates toxins from the body more quickly. It also helps to balance intestinal pH; this keeps unfriendly organisms in check to prevent the release of toxic, cancer-causing substances. Since it plays such an important role in digestion and elimination, diets lacking fibre can lead to many intestinal problems. Consuming enough fibre helps to prevent conditions such as constipation, diarrhea, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.
How to Increase Fibre Intake
In general, adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the easiest way to increase both soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet. Good sources of insoluble fibre include green leafy vegetables, fruit skins, whole grain wheat products, wheat or corn bran and nuts. For more soluble fibre, eat oat bran and other oat products, beans and peas, flax seed, apples, pears, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, broccoli and potatoes. The same foods that give you more beneficial fibre in your diet are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants that enhance your health in various other ways. Adding healthy, fibre-rich food choices to your everyday menu can help you to lead to a longer and healthier life.
Natasha is one of the most respected nutritionist’s in Australia. She says it is common for people to not get enough fibre in their diets and recommends a soluble fibre
drink to compensate. In her spare time, Natasha spends her time shopping with friends, keeping fit at the gym and relaxing at the local beach.
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