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WHY FIBRE IS SO IMPORTANT FOR HEALTH

Every day I communicate with customers trying to improve their health and wellbeing and eventually gut health. In this article I have composed a collection articles, links to scientific papers together with my own input to make the science somewhat easier. I hope you can use the contents as a good reference.


I have also added some useful recipe links to help some support a new healthy plant based life.


Perhaps you're one of the many people suffering with digestive issues: heartburn, abdominal pain, inflammation, hormone challenges, wind, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, IBS, yeast infections, obesity, type 2 diabetes, leaky gut. Over 50% of the western population suffer from these symptoms due to bad diet. In the UK and USA its even worse ... you don't have to look very far.

Without question, gut health starts with the food we eat. No matter what fad diet we try to adopt, supplements taken, exercise done, or antibiotics swallowed, there is only one common denominator, a fibre fuelled approach. Fibre doesn't just benefit digestive disorders, but its the staple food on which the microbiome in our gut lives upon.


Fibre cannot be digested by the human body, only the trillions of of bacteria that reside in our gut "the kingdom of the microbiome" can perform the task. With thousands of different species, they have evolved to digest different types of fibre, releasing beneficial compounds that are critical to human health.


Without a healthy, well nourished gut then our microbiome is compromised. and the bad bacteria will dominate, living off sugar, simple carbohydrates and ultra processed foods. The result is dysbiosis, where the bad chaps dominate.

SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH DAMAGE TO THE GUT MICROBIOME (DYSBIOSIS)

INTESTINAL

EXTRA-INTESTINAL

Abdominal pain or cramping

Weight gain

Wind

Fatigue

Bloating

Brain fog

Food sensitivities

Difficulty concentrating

Food allergies

Mood imbalance

Diarrhoea

Anxiousness

Constipation

Skin breakouts

Stool mucus

Joint pain or muscle aches

Nausea

Weakness

Indigestion

Bad breath

Heartburn/reflux

Sinus congestion

Belching

Shortness of breath / wheezing



 Fibre feeds “good” gut bacteria

The bacteria that live in the human body outnumber the body’s cells 10 to 1. Bacteria live on the skin, in the mouth, and in the nose, but the great majority live in the gut, primarily the large intestine. The bodies immune system is dependent on the good bacteria where they outnumber immune cells (white blood cells) by 200,000 to 1.


Over 1,000 different species of bacteria live in the intestine, totaling about 38 trillion cells. These gut bacteria are also known as the gut flora (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source) and have evolved over hundreds of millions of years, each with a different role to fulfil.


This is not a bad thing. In fact, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the bacteria that live in your digestive system. You provide food, shelter, and a safe habitat for the bacteria. In return, they take care of some things that the human body cannot do on its own.


Of the many different kinds of bacteria, some are crucial for various aspects of your health, including weight, blood sugar control, immune function, and even brain function (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).


You may wonder what this has to do with fibre. Just like any other organism, bacteria need to eat to get energy to survive and function. The problem is that most carbs, proteins, and fats are absorbed into the bloodstream before they make it to the large intestine, leaving little for the gut flora. This is where fibre comes in. The human digestive system don’t have the enzymes to digest fibre, so it reaches the large intestine relatively unchanged.


However, intestinal bacteria do have the enzymes to digest many of these fibre's.

This is the most important reason that (some) dietary fibres are essential for health. They feed the “good” bacteria in the intestine, functioning as prebiotics (9Trusted Source).

In this way, they promote the growth of “good” gut bacteria, which can have various positive effects on health (10Trusted Source).

The friendly bacteria produce nutrients for the body, including short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, of which butyrate appears to be the most important in healing and maintaining a healthy gut lining (11Trusted Source). These short-chain fatty acids can feed the cells in the colon, leading to reduced gut inflammation and improvements in digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis(12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14).


When the bacteria ferment the fibre, they also produce gases. This is why high fibre diets can cause flatulence and stomach discomfort in some people. These side effects usually go away with time as your body adjusts.


SUMMARY

Consuming adequate amounts of soluble, fermentable fibre is very important for optimal health because it optimizes the function of the friendly bacteria in your large intestine....the gut.


Benefits of Fibre

  • Feeding the microbiome: Without regularly eating fibre the microbiome is compromised and may cause many of the symptoms in the table above. 

  • Reducing cholesterol: Fibre in the digestive tract can help reduce the body’s cholesterol absorption, especially if you take statins and use fibre supplements, such as psyllium fiber.

  • Promoting a healthy weight: High fibre foods like fruits and vegetables tend to be lower in calories. Fibre can also slow digestion to help you feel fuller for longer.

  • Preventing constipation: Fibre can speed up digestion and prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the digestive tract, as your body doesn’t digest it. This stimulates the intestines.

  • Managing blood sugar: The body takes longer to break down high fibre foods, which means glucose does not enter the bloodstream so quickly. This helps you maintain more consistent blood sugar levels.

  • Reducing cancer risk: Eating enough fibre may help prevent certain cancers, including colon cancer. One reason may be that some types of fibre, such as the pectin in apples, may have antioxidant properties.

If you’re adding high-fibre foods to your diet, do so gradually over a few days and drink plenty of water, too. This can help prevent adverse effects, such as bloating and gas.


22 High Fibre Foods to Eat

1. Pears (3.1 grams)

Pears are both tasty and nutritious and can satisfy a sweet tooth. They are also a good source of fibre.

Fibre content:5.5 grams in a medium-sized, raw pear Trusted Source, or 3.1 grams per 100 grams.

2. Strawberries (2 grams)

Strawberries are a delicious, healthy option for eating fresh as a summer dessert or as an office snack.

As well as fibre, they also contain vitamin C, manganese, and various antioxidants.

Fibre content:3 grams in 1 cup of fresh strawberries, or 2 grams per 100 grams Trusted Source.

3. Avocado (6.7 grams)

The avocado is high in healthy fats and a good source of fibre.

It also provides vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and various B vitamins.

Fibre content:10 grams in 1 cup of raw avocado, or 6.7 grams per 100 grams Trusted Source.

Try these delicious avocado recipes.

4. Oats (10.1 grams)

Oats are an excellent source of fibre and are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

They contain a powerful soluble fibre called beta glucan, which may help manage Trusted Source blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Fibre content:16.5 grams per cup of raw oats, or 10.1 grams per 100 grams Trusted Source.

Get some recipes here for overnight oats.

5. Apples (2.4 grams)

Apples are a tasty and satisfying fruit. Eaten whole, they also provide both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Fibre content:4.4 grams in a medium-sized, raw apple, or 2.4 grams per 100 grams Trusted Source.

Get some ideas for adding apple to salads.


6. Raspberries (6.5 grams)

Raspberries are a nutritious fruit with a distinctive flavor. They contain fiber, vitamin C, and manganese.

Fibre content: One cup of raw raspberries contains 8 grams of fibre, or 6.5 grams per 100 grams Trusted Source.


Other high-fibre berries

Here are some other berries you can add to desserts, oatmeal, and smoothies or just snack on during the day:


Try them on salads in a raspberry tarragon dressing.

7. Bananas (2.6 grams)

Bananas provide many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.

A green or unripe banana also contains a significant amount of resistant starch, an indigestible carbohydrate that functions like fiber.

Fiber content:3.1 grams in a medium-sized banana, or 2.6 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Try a banana and nut butter sandwich for fiber and protein

8. Carrots (2.8 grams)

The carrot is a root vegetable you can eat raw or cooked.

In addition to fibre, carrots provide vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, and beta carotene, an antioxidant that gets turned into vitamin A in your body.

Fiber content:3.6 grams in 1 cup of raw carrots, or 2.8 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Try carrots in a veggie-loaded soup.

9. Beets (2 grams)

The beet, or beetroot, is a root vegetable that contains valuable nutrients, such as folate, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium.

Beets also provide inorganic nitrates, nutrients that may have benefitsTrusted Source for blood pressure regulation and exercise performance.

Fiber content:3.8 grams per cup of raw beets, or 2 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Try beets in a lemon dijon beet salad.

10. Broccoli (2.6 grams)

Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable and a nutrient-dense food.

It provides fiber and also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, iron, and manganese. It also contains antioxidants and other nutrients that may help fight cancer. Broccoli is also relatively high in protein, compared with other vegetables.

Fiber content:2.4 grams per cup, or 2.6 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Find out how to include broccoli in slaws and other dishes.

11. Artichoke (5.4 grams)

Artichokes are high in many nutrients and are a good source of fibre.

Fibre content:6.9 grams in 1 raw globe or French artichoke, or 5.4 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Find out how to roast artichokes.

12. Brussels sprouts (3.8 grams)

Brussels sprout are cruciferous vegetables related to broccoli.

They contain fibre and are also high in vitamin K, potassium, folate, and potentially cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Fibre content:3.3 grams per cup of raw Brussels sprouts, or 3.8 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.


Other high fibre vegetables

Most vegetables contain significant amounts of fibre.

Other notable examples include:

13. Lentils (10.7 grams)

Lentils are economical, versatile, and highly nutritious. They are a good source of fibre, protein, and many other nutrients.

Fibre content:13.1 grams per cup of cooked lentils, or 10.7 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

14. Kidney beans (7.4 grams)

Kidney beans are a popular type of legume. Like other legumes, they provide plant-based protein and various nutrients.

Fibrer content:12.2 grams per cup of cooked beans, or 7.4 per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

15. Split peas (8.3 grams)

Split peas are made from the dried, split, and peeled seeds of peas. They’re often seen in split pea soup served alongside ham, but can be used in dhals and other recipes.

Fibre content:16.3 grams per cup of cooked split peas, or 8.3 per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

16. Chickpeas (7 grams)

The chickpea is another type of legume that’s rich in fiber and also provides protein and various minerals

Chickpeas feature in hummus, curries, soups, and many other dishes.

Fibre content:12.5 grams per cup of cooked chickpeas, or 7.6 per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

Learn how to make hummus.


Other high fibre legumes

Most legumes are high in protein, fibre, and various nutrients. Prepared correctly, they offer a tasty and economical source of quality nutrition.

Other high fibre legumes include:

17. Quinoa (2.8 grams)

Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal that provides fibre and is a useful source of protein for those on a plant-based diet. Quinoa is also the ONLY plant that contains all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein in our bodies.

It also contains magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants, to name a few.

Fibre content:5.2 grams per cup of cooked quinoa, or 2.8 per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

18. Popcorn (14.5 grams)

Popcorn can be a fun and healthy way to increase fibre.

Air-popped popcorn is very high in fibre, calorie for calorie. However, if you add fat or sugar, the fibre-to-calorie ratio will start to decrease significantly.

Fibre content:1.15 grams per cup of air-popped popcorn, or 14.5 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.


Other high fibre grains

Nearly all whole grains are high in fibre.

19. Almonds (13.3 grams)

Almonds are high in many nutrients, including healthy fats, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.

They can also be made into almond flour for baking.

Fibre content:4 grams per 3 tablespoons, or 13.3 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

20. Chia seeds (34.4 grams)

Chia seeds are highly nutritious, tiny black seeds. They are an excellent source of fiber and contain high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Be sure to soak chia seeds, otherwise they will pass straight through you.

Fibre content: 9.75 grams per ounce of dried chia seeds, or 34.4 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.


Other high fibre nuts and seeds

Most nuts and seeds contain significant amounts of fibre.

Examples include:

All values are for a 100-gram portion.

21. Sweet potatoes (3 grams)

The sweet potato is a popular tuber that’s very filling and has a sweet flavor. It’s high in beta carotene, B vitamins, and various minerals.

Sweet potatoes can be a tasty bread substitute or base for nachos.

Fiber content: A medium-sized boiled sweet potato (without skin) has 3.8 grams of fibre, or 3 grams per 100 gramsTrusted Source.

22. Dark chocolate (10.9 grams)

Dark chocolate can be a good source of nutrients and antioxidants.

Just make sure to choose dark chocolate that has a cocoa content of 70%–95% or higher and avoid products with a lot of added sugar.

Fibre content:3.1 grams in a 1-ounce piece of 70%–85% cacao, or 10.9 grams per 100 gram




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