I’ve been playing around with my most ideal way of conveying my message through this blog, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my style is “simple and digestible information”. So just like the topic of this blog post, I’m going to keep my information “simple and digestible” (see what I did there?).
In its most basic explanation, fibre is dietary material that’s not broken down by digestive enzymes. This allows fibre to pass through the entire digestive system without being broken down until it reaches the large intestine. This makes it important for our stools as it serves as a bulking agent, it eliminates excess cholesterol by binding to it and can even aid in the elimination of excess hormones. To add to this, the good bacteria in our gut ferment fibre. That fermentation produces certain nutrients like b-vitamins, vitamin k, and short chained fatty acids (SCFA’s). In a blood sugar context, fibre can lower the insulin spiking effect of foods by slowing the rate at which sugar enters the blood.
The importance of fibre is seen right from birth as our first exposure to fibre is in the form of indigestible carbohydrates, which has fibre like effects. You might be asking, “Why does breast milk contain carbohydrate that’s not even digested by the baby?” This is due to its prebiotic content that feeds the gut bacteria of the baby and produces short chain fatty acids that build a healthy colon. Short chain fatty acids can also convert to ketones (for all my Keto friends out there). Ok, now that we're all up to speed on fibre and its benefits, let’s get into the fun stuff. How do we get more fibre in our diet?
A friend posed the question to me, and I wanted to shed some light on some sources that we could consume to get overall fibre intake up. To be clear, there is no magical bean (just regular beans and legumes. HA). Ok, I’ll stop with the bad jokes. What I’m trying to say is that dietary fibre intake should be something that adds up throughout the day rather than something you hit in one or two sittings. This could mean cruciferous veggies at every meal, going heavy on the herbs and spices (which contain fibre), eating some fruit as a snack throughout the day, choosing brown rice over white and even eating the shells of your shrimp (if your digestive system can tolerate it)! I’ll say right off the bat that beans and legumes are some of the best sources of fibre, but I also understand that some people don’t react well to beans. If you’re still willing to give beans another shot, try soaking your beans. This lowers the phytic acid content of the bean, which can inhibit the absorption of some minerals such as zinc.
My dietary fibre intake at this time is set at 40g. Recommended daily fibre for women is usually anywhere from 20-25g while men are in between 35-40g. Here are my favourite food sources that are surprisingly high in fibre…
Tips to sneak in some fibre without thinking about it include sprinkling hemp seed on your food where applicable, put some flax into your shakes and yogurt, use frozen berries and spinach in your smoothies. If you choose to enlist the help of a fibre supplement, then be weary of fibre supplements that contain added flavours and preservatives. Psyllium husk can potentially be an option as a fibre supplement, but it can cause irritation for people dealing with existing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Don't forget your fibre!