Fibre is a crucial component of our diet and our health that is often overlooked. The average Canadian consumes about 50% of the recommended amount of fibre per day, putting their health at risk. Not consuming enough fibre can lead to short-term and long-term negative effects that could easily be avoided through a proper moderate to high fibre diet. Most individuals need more fibre in their diet, however, it may not be appropriate for all. Here’s how to know if a high fibre diet is right for you:
What is Fibre?
Fibre is the non-digestible part of plants. It is considered a carbohydrate, but it does not add to your calorie or carbohydrate count as your body is unable to absorb it. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble, both of which serve different functions. In general, most foods have a combination of the two types of fibre, but some foods may have more of one type than the other.
Why Do We Need Fibre?
Fibre is necessary for essential life processes and provides long-term benefits for our health. In general, the average healthy adult female needs 25g of fibre per day, and the average healthy adult male requires 38g of fibre per day. Each type of fibre offers different benefits, so we must consume both for optimal health, nonetheless, depending on your needs you may need more of one type than the other. Hitting your daily fibre target is already a great healthy habit, but if you want to improve your diet even further, you could look into obtaining 25% of your daily fibre from soluble fibre and the rest from insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre vs. Insoluble Fibre:
Soluble Fibre: Dissolves in water creating a gel-like substance. Its main purpose is to add bulk to stool. It also has a great reputation for decreasing cholesterol levels.
Insoluble Fibre: Does not dissolve in water. Its main role is to help regulate bowel movements.
What are the Benefits of Fibre?
- Improved Bowel Health: The most famous benefit of fibre is its ability to promote regular and healthy bowel movements. Healthy and regular bowel movements can reduce your risk of constipation, diarrhoea, bowel cancer and haemorrhoids.
- Weight Loss: Fibrous foods can help to keep you fuller longer, thus reducing the risk of overconsumption of calories that can cause weight gain.
- Improved Blood Sugar Levels/Diabetes Management & Prevention: Since fibre slows the rate of digestion of your food, the sugars found in foods are more slowly and steadily released into your bloodstream. This slow-releasing action prevents any significant sugar spikes or drops from occurring.
- Improved Heart Health: Fibre can help to lower bad cholesterol levels by binding to the free cholesterol and driving it out of your body. Good levels of cholesterol are essential for proper heart function.
What Foods Have Fibre?
The main sources of fibre are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. If you’re looking to add more soluble fibre to your diet then choose foods such as oats, barley, dry beans, peas, vegetables, and citrus fruits will be your best bet. If you’re on the lookout for more sources of insoluble fibre then look into adding nuts and seeds, starchy vegetables, fruits and vegetables with edible peels, and whole-grain carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, crackers, rice, and cereals.
If you don’t enjoy eating any of the mentioned foods on their own, look for food products made with any of these ingredients. You can find anything from granola bars to cereals to cookies to candy to pasta to pancakes that are high in fibre and easy to incorporate into your diet without having to sacrifice taste or texture. Find high fibre foods in Canada here.
Is a High Fibre Diet for Everyone?
No. Although most individuals could benefit from adding more fibre to their diet, there are some exceptions. Anyone that suffers from any colon-related conditions such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease to name a few, may be sensitive to fibre. Depending on the condition and the symptoms present, affected individuals will require less or more fibre in their diet. Always talk to a registered dietitian or a licensed physician before making any changes to your diet.
How to Get More Fibre in Your Diet?
Adding more fibre into your diet is easier than you think! Follow these general tips to help you meet your fibre goal every time:
- Read the Food Label: Look for foods with a % Daily Value (%DV) with a fibre value that is greater than 5%. Any foods that carry a fibre value above 15% (i.e. high in fibre) may require a slow introduction into your diet to avoid experiencing any bloating or distress.
- Read The Ingredients List: Choose food products with any of the foods mentioned above as the first ingredient. Any food products made from fruits, vegetables, legumes, or whole grains should naturally be high in fibre.
- Eat Fruits and/or Vegetables with Every Meal: Having one small serving of fruits and/or vegetables with every meal will effortlessly get you to your fibre goal.
- Eat The Peel: Most fruits and vegetables carry fibre in their peel. If the peel is edible (i.e. potatoes, apples, pears...etc.), leave it on whenever possible.
- Switch to Whole Grains: A simple switch from white to whole-grain carbohydrates is a low-sacrifice switch that can lead you to your fibre goals.
- Eat More Plant-Based Meals: Plant-based meals typically include nuts and legumes. Enjoy a plant-based chili or a yummy bean salad to your daily menu is an easy and delicious way to increase your fibre intake.
Ready to eat more fibre? Here are some high fibre foods to get you started:
Lesser Evil Oh My Ghee Popcorn: A healthy excuse for more movie nights!
The Good Bean Chickpea Snacks Chili Lime: Because life could use a little crunch!
Beanitos Hint of Lime Bean Chips: A healthy, fibre-rich twist to chips!
Snack Affair Cauliflower Bites: Cauliflower has never tasted this good!
Handfuel Dry Roasted Marcona Almonds with Lemon and Sea Salt: All nutty, and no naughty!
Flourish Protein Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix: Because no one ever said, “that’s enough pancakes,” ever!
Kodiak Cakes Oatmeal Maple & Brown Sugar: An easy breakfast that will meet your every need!
Chickapea Organic Penne Pasta: Giving you another reason to eat more pasta!
Tumaro’s Garden Veggie Wrap: One wrap with lots of fibre coming right up!
Carbonaut Keto Multi-Grain Bread: A slice a day keeps the doctor away!