Eating more fibre-containing foods has many health benefits. Try to eat more high fibre breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, dried beans and lentils each day.
Fibre or dietary fibre is the part of food that is not digested in the small intestine. Dietary fibre moves largely unchanged into the large intestine or colon where it is fermented by friendly bacteria that live there.
Eating foods high in fibre
It is recommended that Australians aim to eat at least 25 – 30g fibre each day. Eating more dietary fibre can help keep your digestive system healthy and reduce the risk of:
- diverticular disease
- bowel cancer
There is also evidence indicating an association between eating a diet rich in high fibre whole grain foods and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is important to eat a variety of foods rich in both insoluble and soluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre, adds bulk and helps to keep the bowels regular, it is the hard, scratchy outer skins and surfaces of roots, grains and seeds which are not as easily digested. Insoluble fibre is also very filling. Foods higher in insoluble fibre include:
- whole grain breads and cereals
- the outer skins of fruit and vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- raw lentil, kidney beans and chickpeas
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a thick gel in your intestines, slowing digestion. This can help stabilise blood glucose levels in people with diabetes and may help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. By slowing down digestion, soluble fibre helps people feel full for longer after eating. Foods higher in soluble fibre include:
- fruits and vegetables
- dried beans and lentils
This is starch that resists digestion in the small intestine. Once in the large intestine, friendly bacteria ferment resistant starch. This process produces substances that help to keep the lining of the bowel healthy. Resistant starch can be found in:
- slightly undercooked pasta (‘al-dente’)
- under ripe bananas
- cooked and cooled potato
- ‘hi-maize’ which is found in commercial food products such as breads and cereals
Below is an example of how an adult may meet their daily dietary fibre requirements:
|3/4 cup whole grain breakfast cereal||4.5g|
|2 slices wholemeal bread||4.5g|
|1 apple (with skin) and 1 orange||5.5g|
|2 cups mixed raw vegetables||10g|
|1/4 cup legumes eg. baked beans||3g|