In Part 1 and Part 2 of Carbohydrates Explained Simply, we covered starches and then sugars, why they are important and the best sources. This is Part 3 of the article, we will talk about the fibre in carbohydrates.
We’ll look at fibre
- the two main types of dietary fibre,
- what they do,
- the best dietary sources, and
- recommended intakes
Fibre is found in fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts and legumes. It is the indigestible part of plant foods so when you eat it, it passes right through the digestive system (1).
Food labels show fibre as a subset of carbohydrates.
There are two main categories of fibre.
Insoluble fibre is important for:
- adding bulk to the stool and
- keeping your bowels regular (preventing constipation).
Soluble fibre is important for:
- slowing digestion so you feel satisfied longer
- stabilise blood sugar levels, and
- lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Both types of fibre can help to reduce the risk of bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease. It’s important to drink a lot of water to help the fibre move through your digestive tract.
Some people have genetic or other conditions that make it difficult to tolerate fibre, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (2).
It’s important to be careful with long term use of packaged fibre supplements, because they can lead to a lazy bowel.
The Best Way to Consume Fibre
The best way to consume fibre is by eating high-fibre whole foods such as fruits and vegetable (especially the skins, if edible), seeds and grain husks, nuts and legumes.
Psyllium husks or flax seeds are a convenient way to increase fibre intake in your diet. They can be crushed and added to soups, smoothies, breakfast cereals or dressings.
Recommended Intake of Fibre
The Dietician’s Association of Australia recommends consuming 25-30g fibre per day.
This amount includes fibre from both soluble and insoluble sources and is enough to keep your colon healthy.
What’s your favourite source of fibre?
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