Fibre 101

Fibre 101

Despite the fact that fibre has numerous health benefits, Canadians tend to eat about half of what is recommended. We believe that fibre is truly one of our best friends in health, so let us introduce you.

What is fibre?

Fibre is a broad term used to describe a really special group of carbohydrates. Unlike other forms of carbohydrate, fibre isn't something our bodies can digest—and the fact that it's indigestible gives it unique health properties compared with other nutrients. Traditionally, fibre has been grouped into two main categories: soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble fibre

Insoluble fibre does not dissolve readily in water. It includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignins and is found mostly in the bran portion of whole grains such as whole wheat.

Soluble fibre

Soluble fibre tends to swell and form a gel when mixed with water (such as in your intestine) and includes pectins, gums, and mucilages. Bacteria in the large intestine also easily metabolize soluble fibre. Oats, apples, bananas, barley, and many beans are great sources of soluble fibre.

Health benefits of fibre

  • Promotes regularity
  • Helps Manage Body Weight
  • Lower blood cholesterol level

How much fibre do you need?

The Institute of Medicine recommends that women age 50 and younger eat at least 25 grams of total fibre per day, and men in the same age group at least 38 grams per day. Women over age 50 should eat at least 21 grams per day, and men over 50 at least 30 grams per day1.

Fabulous fibre sources

When it comes to fibre sources, plant foods really shine. Whole grains and beans are perhaps the most often overlooked terrific sources of fibre. Fruits and vegetables are also great choices when trying to increase your fibre fill. Keep in mind that animal foods, for the most part, are devoid of any fibre.

1 US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th edition. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 2010;1-122.

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