Written By: Melanie Darbyshire
Long one of the staples of healthy eating, fibre enjoys a prime position in the diet-improvement hierarchy. You’ve likely heard it many times before: eat more fibre – whether it’s to improve health, maintain health, fight disease or lose weight. But while you may know that fibre is good for you and that you should consume more of it, you may not truly understand why.
At the most basic level, fibre helps with digestion. This is because our bodies do not digest it (as it does proteins, fats and carbohydrates) – fibre remains in a solid (or liquid form) and passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out the body. Thus it is often termed roughage.
It comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you fell full longer. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve and helps to bulk up your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination – helpful for those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools.
There are a whole host of health benefits from fibre including: helping to prevent colon cancer (fibre helps keeps your colon clean and healthy), controlling blood sugar, improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, reducing your risk of stroke, weight loss and management, improved skin health, a reduced risk of hemorrhoids, relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and a reduced risk of gallstones and kidney stones.
So how much fibre do you need? The Dieticians of Canada recommend 25-35 grams of fibre per day. That may seem like a lot, but luckily, fibre is found in many of the foods we eat. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are the primary sources. (For reference: an apple with the skin contains around 4 grams of fibre; a cup of cooked black beans contains about 15 grams; and, one cup of cooked broccoli contains approximately 5 grams).
Pears, raspberries and blackberries are chock-full of fibre, as are artichokes, avocados, peas, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Oatmeal, barley, beans, split peas and lentils are other great choices. Nuts, seeds and whole grains provide even more high-fibre choices.
Try incorporating as many of these foods in your diet as you can. For example, replace white bread or pasta with whole-wheat bread and pasta, sprinkle nuts or seeds on your salad, use legume-based dips (for example hummus or baba ghanoush) for veggies and eat the peels of your vegetables and fruits whenever possible. Also don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day to help keep things moving.
At Made Foods, high-fibre foods can be found in just about every meal we make – it’s part of our commitment to making good, healthy food. Take the Maple Pumpkin Seed Oatmeal, loaded with steel cut oats, large flake oats, chia seeds (an exceptionally high-fibre seed), flax seeds, hemp hearts, dehydrated blueberries and pumpkin seeds. Or the Mexican Burrito which features a whole wheat tortilla, spinach, peppers, corn, sweet potatoes and black beans. The Quinoa Crusted Chicken is another high-fibre (and delicious) meal – it features (among other whole, fresh ingredients) broccoli, quinoa, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Our smoothies and snacks too incorporate a lot of fibre. The Pear & Apple Smoothie has pear, apple, spinach, kale AND oats. The Hemp Seed Hummus (garbanzo beans, sesame seeds and hemp seeds) and Mountain Trail Mix (which includes almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, sunflower, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds, and cranberries) are other fibre winners.
So next time you sit down for a snack or meal, consider how much fibre it has. If it’s lacking, try fixing it. Given the multitude of foods to choose from, it’s not hard at all. The unfortunate, sometimes smelly side-effects are well worth it.