Our bodies need fibre to function well. Fibre can be defined as the portion of plant derived food that cannot be completely broken down by our digestive system. Thanks to the marketing of many food companies we tend to believe that fibre mostly comes from products like bread, cereals and pastas that are made up of whole grains. While this is true, there is fibre in fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, etc.
There are two types of fibre. Insoluble fibre soaks up water as it moves through our digestive system to keep our intestines and colon functioning well. The second type, soluble fibre, passes through the body without breaking down at all.
On a daily basis women need approximately 25 grams and men need 30 grams of fibre. The amount needed by kids ranges from 19 – 38 grams per day based on age and gender. The benefits of getting enough fibre are that it keeps us regular, it can lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, help with weight management and it can lower risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
Generally speaking, most people only get half the recommended daily amount. The question is what does 25 – 30 grams of fibre look like? Here’s a list of foods, other than grains, to give you an idea:
- Raspberries: 8 grams/cup
- Apple with skin: 4.4 grams for medium sized apple
- Boiled Lentils: 15.6 grams/cup
- Almond: 3.5 grams/ounce
- Boiled Broccoli: 5.1 grams/cup
- Boiled Brussel Sprouts: 4.1 grams/cup
If we were to compare any item on this list to the fibre contained in a slice of whole wheat bread (1.9 grams) we’d find there are greater benefits in getting the bulk of our fibre from fruits, vegetables and legumes. In many cases, there are fewer calories, and in most cases there is better nutritional value.
Getting enough fibre will take some planning. It’s important to increase the amount consumed a little at a time or your tummy may not be very happy. As you do increase the amount, be sure to increase your physical activity and water consumption to avoid gas and bloating.
The bottom line is that we want to be healthy. We want to feel good. I have had many clients over the years tell me that they didn’t realize how lousy they were feeling until they started to feel better. This doesn’t pertain only to fibre consumption but if “we are what we eat” this is a good place to start.
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