Jess: Two thousand years ago, Hippocrates already knew that “all disease begins in the gut”. Ahead of its time, this age-old knowledge rings true in many cases to this very day.
Digestion and food absorption is one of the most critical functions of our body; yet, we don’t think much of our digestive system when we plan out our diet and exercise. A lot of diseases can be prevented by maintaining a healthy digestive system. One important nutrient for digestive health is dietary fibre, which is categorised based on whether or not they can be dissolved in water, that is, soluble and insoluble fibre. Both soluble and insoluble fibre cannot be digested by the body, however, they play significant roles in maintaining our overall health.
1. Soluble Fibre Boosts Immunity and Prevents Inflammation
A weak immune system can beget inflammation. Chronic inflammation is now linked to a host of illnesses from obesity to cancer, but the good news is that fibre is a major killjoy for inflammation. People who constantly ate a fibre-rich diet tested low for CRP or C-reactive protein, an inflammation indicator. On the other hand, high blood levels of CRP may indicate that the body is in a constant state of inflammation and is therefore a potential victim of diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
2. Fibre Helps in Detoxification
The liver produces bile which breaks down fats, wastes and other toxins in our body. Soluble fibre binds tightly to bile in the intestine and holds together all the bad wastes like cholesterol, drugs and other toxins. Since fibre cannot be absorbed by the intestines, it passes out of our bowels together with the bound toxins. Without adequate fibre to help reduce toxic buildup, the bile can get increasingly contaminated, leading to problems like cholesterol piling, gallstones and inflammation. You can read more on detoxing correctly here.
3. Fibre Helps Manage Weight
When soluble fibre dissolves in water, it turns into a gel-like substance which adds bulk to food. This helps slow down digestion and gives you a full or satiated feeling even when eating in smaller portions. Moreover, it helps flush out the sugars and starches in your intestines, there by decreasing the amount of unhealthy waste material in the body. All these, in effect, helps with weight management.
4. Reduced Risks of First Stroke
A study has found that a high-fibre diet is associated with reduced risks of first-time stroke. People who are consuming at least 25 grams of total dietary fibre daily are less likely to experience having stroke than those with low fibre intake. In addition, increasing your total dietary fibre intake by 7 grams can reduce your risk for first-time stroke by 7 percent.
5. Fibre May Control or Prevent Diabetes
Diabetes is an alarming condition in which the body loses adequate control over the volume of blood glucose, causing this to rise to dangerous levels. Fibre’s bulk and indigestibility slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates consequently helping to regulate blood sugar levels, an intrinsic part of preventing or managing diabetes.
6. How Much Fibre Do We Need and Where to Get it From?
Most of us are engrossed with the amount of saturated fats, refined carbs, sugar and calories impacting our weight and cardiovascular health (which is fantastic effort, don’t get me wrong); but we tend to remain oblivious to how much fibre we are actually getting. On the average, Australians consume about 18-25 grams of fibre in a day – not enough to keep us in the pink of health. Experts recommend that we should be eating our fill of 30-40 grams daily to really help keep our digestive system in shape. In most cases, to meet the recommended fibre intake, all it takes is to increase your fruit or vegetable consumption by 2 portions every day.
Excellent sources of dietary fibre include cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, chia seeds, flaxseeds, green beans, almonds, walnuts and 180 Natural Protein Superfood. Most fruits and vegetables, in fact, contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Fibre matters a lot more than what we care to give it credit for. A happy digestive system could very well mean an overall happy, healthy body. Let’s not neglect fibre but give it a vital place in our daily diets.
Jess Lorek is an architect, a wedding photographer, health enthusiast and blogger. Having experienced the adverse effects of taking strong antibiotics to treat her digestive problem, she was inspired to write about proper nutrition and personal wellness to share with others the importance of keeping the mind and body fit, active and healthy.