I mentioned last week in my granola recipe that I would write a post on fibre. It is something that we hear a lot about in adverts and the public has a broad understanding that it is good for us but I want to explain why. If you understand what you are eating, you can understand how it helps and can better control your diet.
Fibre has two categories: soluble and insoluble. (This terminology is something that confuses even
more experienced health care professionals so it is no wonder why the general population is feeling dazzled about this.)
Generally speaking fibre (soluble and insoluble) offers a range of proven health promoting benefits and should be included in the diet on a daily basis (unless advised by a physician otherwise).
Fibre is technically classed as a carbohydrate though unlike a “normal” carbohydrate it can not be broken down by our digestive enzymes and therefore can not release any energy and will travel in our digestive tract virtually unchanged.
Why is it good:
Food with fibre takes up more space in the stomach - so for example if you have a meal containing 400 calories with 15 grams of fibre it will keep you fuller for longer than a meal containing the same amount of calories but no fibre at all. This is because fibre makes the food move more slowly down the digestive tract- great for losing weight!
Several clinical studies have shown that people who have a recommended amount of fibre in their diet are more likely to be leaner and are less likely gain weight over time.
The Soluble one:
If you would take a soluble fibre source and mix it in a cup of hot water it will dissolve. In the digestive tract the soluble fibre will mix with the juices an form a viscous gel. This gel can trap food components in it and make them less available for absorption such as certain fats and sugars. Now before we get too excited this does not mean that we will not absorb calories from fatty and sugary foods but, it is believed that this is the mechanism why oats and some other grains have possible cholesterol lowering effects.
You can get soluble fibre from:
legumes (for example beans, pulses, lentils)
some fruit and vegetables (but they tend to have more insoluble fibre in them)
The Insoluble one:
If you take an insoluble fibre source and mix it in a cup of hot water it will not dissolve and will sink to the bottom of the cup. If you leave it in the same cup for a few hours it will soak up some of the water and expand - a little bit like a dry sponge making contact with water. This is exactly how this works in the digestive tract- moving along the food matter in our digestive tract. Often this is very effective in preventing constipation, however sometimes too much insoluble fibre (and soluble) can worsen the symptoms so we should always find a happy balance!
In the next week or two I will be posting my 250 x 7 program for women; this is a program I really believe in and follow myself. It is sustainable, healthy and gets you in great shape. It contains plenty of fibre. It is NOT a diet, it is a lifestyle.