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Usually, when we think of fibre in our diet, our minds immediately tell us this is one topic we can certainly do without. After all, who wants to think of how certain foods act as roughages and push food down our digestive tract?  Truth is, fibres do a whole lot more than aid smooth digestion and keep the system in order. Foods which have a high dietary fibre can also lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Taking it further, fibre also helps improve the health of your skin, and helps you lose weight. The sad thing is that we do not take the functions of fibre seriously enough for us to consciously add enough of it to our daily dietary intake.

Because fibre passes through the system undigested, it keeps your digestive system clean and healthy, easing bowel movements, and flushing cholesterol and harmful carcinogens out of the body. Research has shown that fibre comes in two distinct forms: the soluble and insoluble kinds. Insoluble fibre is the kind of fibre which does not dissolve in water. It helps to prevent constipation, and is found in whole grains, wheat cereals, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Soluble fibre on the other hand, dissolves in water and helps control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Good sources include oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears. There are certain foods which contain a combination of both.

Why Fibre is Good for You

  • Dietary fibre keeps the digestive system running as it should; normalizing bowel movement, and preventing both constipation and diarrhoea.

  • Soluble fibre, we are told, is an important element of any heart-healthy diet. Improving cholesterol levels, a high fibre intake can also reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome. Fibre can help to lower blood pressure, and shed excess weight around the abdomen.

  • A diet high in fibre; particularly insoluble fibre from cereals, can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

  • Recent research suggests that diets with high fibre content can help prevent colorectal cancer, although the evidence is not yet conclusive.

  • Yeast and fungus are excreted through the skin triggering outbreaks or acne. A diet high in fibre can flush toxins out of your body, improving the health and appearance of your skin.

  • For those keen on losing some weight, fibre adds bulk to your diet; this is a crucial aspect of weight loss as it can help you feel full sooner. Since fibre stays in the stomach longer than other foods, that feeling of fullness will stay with you much longer, helping you eat less. It is also important to note that foods high in fibre, like fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories.

Sources of Fibre

More foods than we think contain fibre which makes it somewhat easier to include it in your diet, or increase the proportions you already take. Some of these sources of fibre are;

Fruits: Apple, Orange, Avocado, Banana and Berries

Vegetables: Cabbage, Carrots, Tomato, Lettuce

Cereals: Cornflakes, Fruit ‘n’ Fibre, Weetabix

Other fibre sources include baked beans, pasta, brown rice, baked potato (with the skin), and interestingly, popcorn.

Recipes abound to help you think of fun and creative ways to increase your dietary intake of fibre and enjoy a healthier life!

Anino Benson-Uwheru

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