Fabulous Fibre, Are You Getting Enough?

Do you get enough fibre? Most Canadians only eat half the fibre that they need. You’ve more than likely heard that fibre is important, but why?

Dietary fibre one of the three carbohydrates. It is the part of plant foods that our bodies can’t fully digest and absorb. There are two types that provide different benefits for good health. Most foods that contain fibre contain more than one type.

Soluble or Viscous Fibre

Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel. This type of fibre can help to control blood sugars which can lower the risk for diabetes. It can also lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol and fat  which can lower the risk for heart disease. Other health benefits include helping to maintain healthy bowel function, enhancing healthy gut bacteria and controlling weight by prolonging feelings of fullness.

Good Sources are:

  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Barley
  • Apples/Applesauce
  • Oat bran, oatmeal
  • Chia and flax seeds
  • Edamame
  • Legumes such as split peas, beans and lentils
  • Oranges psyllium
  • Sweet potato
  • White potatoes

Insoluble Fibre

Insoluble fibre keeps your digestive system healthy and may lower the risk for heart disease and certain types of cancers such as colon and breast cancer.

Good sources are:

  • Whole grain foods such as cereals and breads
  • Wheat bran
  • Corn bran
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts

How much fibre you need depends on your gender and age:

Age Male (grams per day) Females (grams per day)
1-3 19 19
4-8 25 25
9-13 31 26
14-18 38 26
19-50 38 25
50+ 30 21
Pregnant   28
Breastfeeding   29

Tips to help increase fibre intake:

  • Have a fruit or vegetable with each meal and eat the skins or peels whenever possible
  • Choose whole fruits and vegetables rather than having juice
  • Add fruit to yogurt, baked goods and cereals
  • Add extra vegetables to pasta sauces, stir-fry, soups, and casseroles
  • Choose whole grain breads and cereals
  • Choose whole wheat pastas, couscous, bulgar, barely, quinoa and brown rice
  • Add wheat bran to baking, cereals, casseroles and ground meat dishes
  • Use whole grain wheat flour, barley and oat flours
  • Add lentils, beans and chickpeas to pasta sauces, soups, casseroles and salads

Drinking enough fluids when eating a high fibre diet is important. This and spreading fibre throughout your day will help to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort.

With a few small changes, getting enough fibre can be easy. Use your creativity to pair different food groups when making your meals and snacks and enjoy!