Someone asked me about fibre the other day and it sent me into a proper geek tizz-wizz. Fibre (also known as ‘roughage’) is a form of carbohydrate that does not get digested in your small intestine (where most of your digestion happens).
This blog is about fibre – what it is, where you can get it from, why you need it and how much you need every day. And let’s be honest, we all know that a good fibre intake will help you make nice jobbies – so it’s important that you find out all about it, right!?
What is Fibre?
Like I said before, fibre is a form of carbohydrate and can fall into one of three categories:
Resistant oligosaccharides (indigestible carbohydrates) OR
NSP (Non-starch polysaccharide)
Although fibre is a form of carbohydrate, it doesn’t get digested in the small intestine like other carbohydrates do – it actually remains undigested until it hits your large intestine. From there on, what happens to it will depend on which type of fibre it is. There are TWO types of fibre – insoluble fibre and soluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre – binds water and increases the peristalsis in your intestines (the rhythmic movement that pushes material along your gut). This type of fibre helps to keep the material in your intestines moving along in a timely manner.
Soluble fibre – smoothens out the absorption of the nutrients from the meals you eat and is fermented in your large intestine by your lovely friendly gut bacteria.
Where can you get fibre from?
You will find fibre in all types of plants (fruits and vegetables) but not from animal products.
Insoluble fibre can be found in foods like wheat, corn, wholegrain rice, wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds, and the peels of fruits & vegetables
Soluble fibre can be found in legumes like lentils, peas and beans and also in oats, fruit, vegetables and potatoes.
You will also find that resistant starch is very present in COLD white potatoes (i.e. white potatoes that have been cooked and cooled). The resistant starch will mean the fibre from these potatoes remains undigested in the large intestine – helping with peristalsis and increasing the health of your gut.
Why do you need fibre in your diet?
There are lots of great reasons to have adequate fibre intake in your daily diet:
- Increases the bulk of our stools (poo)
- It reduces the glycaemic index of our meals, meaning we will stay fuller for longer
- It provides fuel for the good bacteria in our large intestine
- It regulates bowel movements and will help us to avoid constipation
- It has also been linked to reduced risk of certain cancers
How much fibre should you have in your diet?
I recommend that as a woman, you aim for 25-30g of fibre per day. You can easily track this in a food diary tracker like My Fitness Pal.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the last 5 awesome reads from Rachael Watson: