Updated: Apr 18, 2019
A couple of our clients have been asking about fibre following discussions with their medical practitioners so we thought it worthwhile to provide a simple overview in this post.
Dietary fibre used to be known as 'roughage' and refers to a group of substances found in plant foods which cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. Fibre is therefore the indigestible cell wall component of plant material. This includes waxes, lignins and polysaccharides, such as cellulose and pectin. Pectin is a fibre abundant in apples that binds to toxins and transports them out of the body.
Unlike sugars and starches, fibre is a type of carbohydrate which contributes no calories to our diet - as it cannot be broken down. This then becomes the bulk or roughage we referred to earlier. Instead of being broken down and absorbed into the blood stream, fibre simply passes through our entire digestive tract.
Fibre is classified as soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (does not dissolve in water).
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel like material that helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fibre is found in oats, beans, peas, carrots, barley, citrus fruits and psyllium.
Insoluble fibre promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and increases stool bulk, which can help people who suffer from constipation or irregular stools. Good sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, nuts, beans, whole wheat flour and many vegetables including green beans and cauliflower.
Both soluble and insoluble fibre are found in all plant foods but in different amounts. Fruits, vegetables and legumes are the ideal sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre since they contain a very high antioxidant value.
The UK recommendation for fibre is 18 grams a day. Here at the clinic, we recommend around 35g for men and 25g for women per day.
In the average diet about three quarters of the fibre consumed is insoluble, this reflects the fact that we tend to eat a lot of bread and grain based cereals - foods we steer clear of at the ancestral wellness clinic.
A deficiency in fibre can cause irregular digestion, constipation, elevated cholesterol levels and increased body weight. Fibre absorbs water and swells in the body, providing bulk in the digestive tract. So be sure to drink plenty of fluids when increasing your fibre intake.
More on fibre next week, but also note that juicing as opposed to blending removes the fibre!
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