What is the Importance of Dietary Fibre?
What is the Importance of Dietary Fibre?
Most people are aware of the important part that proteins, vitamins and alkaline minerals play in the maintenance of our good health, but it’s very unusual to hear people extolling the multiple health benefits of dietary fibre. This is unfortunate, because dietary fibre is far from inconsequential: Although it provides no minerals or nutrients on its own, if does play an unquestionably vital role in controlling weight gain, regulating your blood sugar levels and promoting the health of your digestive system.
- Strengthen the walls of your lower intestine
- Add substance to your stools
- Aid in the detoxification of your bowels
- Provide increased protection against inflammation of the gut
- Increase your resistance to irritable bowel syndrome, duodenal ulcers and acid reflux
According to Alejandro Junger, author of Clean and director of integrative medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Fibre’s unique ability to sweep our intestines clean of harmful carcinogenic compounds is also essential to the proper functioning of our enterohepatic circulation. “Without fibre” he says, “toxins that would normally be flushed from our bowels are re-absorbed into the blood stream, and deposited in our tissues.”
Some of these toxic deposits can inflame your bowels, and eventually encourage the development of multiple health conditions, including:
- Varicose veins
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Others, such as quinoline, are actually classed as carcinogens, and have even been implicated in the development of certain colonic and intestinal cancers by researchers at the university of Lund, Sweden.
What Is Dietary Fibre?
Dietary fibre, or roughage, is indigestible plant material that has a beneficial effect on the health of our digestive systems. Dietary fibre can actually be broken up into two distinct groups; soluble dietary fibre, which plays an essential role in controlling the up-regulation of nutrients in the small intestine, and insoluble dietary fibre, which is connected directly to the health of your bowels and the consistency of your stools.
Soluble Dietary Fibre
Soluble dietary fibre doesn’t interact directly with your gastro-intestinal tract, but it does bind with water into the gut to form a stiff gel-like substance that slows the rate at which certain nutrients can be transferred through the lining of your bowels, and into your body proper.
In particular, this fibrous gel prevents your body from absorbing large amounts of glucose directly into your bloodstream. In doing so it prevents your blood sugar levels from spiking suddenly, and reduces the rate at which your body needs to produce insulin – the hormone responsible for
- Regulating glucose absorption
- Preventing your body from burning of fat for energy
- Encouraging the production of harmful (LDL) cholesterol in the liver.
For this reason, soluble dietary fibre is thought to play a very important part in protecting the health of your heart and inhibiting the development of type 2 diabetes.
Insoluble Dietary Fibre
Insoluble dietary fibre doesn’t bind to water in the gut, but it does add bulk and body to your stools, allowing your intestinal muscles to quickly and easily pass waste material from your body, and reducing your exposure to the damaging and often carcinogenic toxins found in waste material.
In decreasing the transit time of faecal matter through the bowels, insoluble dietary fibre also reduces the strain placed on your colon by the strenuous process of excretion, and prevents the lining of your bowels from being stretched, deformed or torn.
As such, insoluble dietary fibre is thought to help protect against the development of:
- varicose veins
As well as promoting regular bowel movements. Recent findings also suggest that insoluble dietary fibre may also help to nourish the beneficial intestinal bacteria responsible for breaking down long chain triglycerides in the small intestine, as well as boosting efforts to lose weight by increasing the sensation of satiety experienced after a meal, without increasing your caloric intake.
How Can You Increase Your Dietary Fibre Intake?
According to the NHS, most people in Britain only get around 14g of fibre a day – 4g less than esteemed medical professionals like Alejandro Junger advise.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to increase the amount of dietary fibre that you consume. Foods like flax seeds, apples, oatmeal and nuts are all rich in soluble dietary fibre, while foods like broccoli, brown rice Kale and whole wheat are all very good sources of insoluble dietary fibre
Certain flours, such as organic coconut flour, are also rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, which makes them a fantastic way to conveniently increase your dietary fibre intake. Coconut flour can actually be used to replace up to a third of the ordinary flour in your home baking recipes too, which makes it a very convenient option as well.
Generally speaking, you should aim to keep your intake of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre relatively level, as an imbalance can occasionally cause adverse effects such as constipation. It’s also very important that you remember to hydrate your body properly as well: fibre is very good at soaking up moisture, and a sudden increase in your dietary fibre intake can often dehydrate you if adequate care is not taken to ensure that the body is properly prepared.
If you’d like to learn more about healthy, fibre rich foods, or you have questions about the multiple health benefits associated with an increase in the consumption of dietary fibre, remember that you can always call us on 01764 662111 for an obligation-free chat.