There is so much more to fibre than helping you stay ‘regular’. A high fibre diet comes with a heap of health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, keeping the heart healthy and reducing the risk of some cancers. It can also assist in weight loss. So even if you are a ‘once a day’ person include high fibre foods in your diet and reap the benefits!
A review of studies found that when people increased their dietary fibre intake by 14g for longer than 2 days they decreased calorie intake by 10% and had weight loss of about 2 kg over 4 months. Participants also reported increase in post meal satiety and reduction in hunger. The effects were even greater for obese people. Another study followed women for 12 years and assessed dietary habits on 4 different occasions. The women who consumed the most dietary fibre gained the least amount of weight. Women with the highest intake of high fibre wholegrain foods had a 49% lower risk of major weight gain than those who consumed the least amount of fibre.
There’s not one type of fibre that produces the greatest effects on satiety and weight loss but a combination of the 3 different forms of fibre.
Soluble fibre – This type of fibre forms a thick gel in the stomach and gut which slows down travel time throughout the digestive tract resulting in the feeling of fullness. Soluble fibre can also help to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This type of fibre in found in oats, barley, lentils and beans.
Insoluble fibre – This fibre adds bulk to foods and comes from the structural part of plants and seeds. This fibre remains intact throughout the digestive system. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the diet, can replace calorie dense food, produce a feeling of fullness in the stomach and often requires a longer time for chewing which can all attribute to satiety. It is found in wholegrain bread, cereals, bran, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Resistant starch – resistant starch resists digestion in the small intestine and travels down to the large intestine where it is fermented by gut bacteria. During this process many healthy benefits take place such as adding bulk to stools to keep bowel motions regular, growth of good gut bacteria and the production of short chain fatty acids. Research has suggested that resistant starch can enhance both short and long term satiety in a does response relationship – the more you have the fuller you feel! Some research suggests that fermentation and production of short chain fatty acids can regulate satiety hormones. Good sources include wholegrain breads and cereals, barley, oats, legumes and firm bananas.
Now that fibre has hit the spotlight for aiding in weightloss and not just keeping the bowels moving it has started to be added to all kinds of foods – yoghurt, white bread and fruit juice. So is it as simple as choosing the products with the ‘added fibre’? They do have a place in the diet but by choosing high fibre whole foods such as wholegrains, beans, legumes, fruits and veggies you will also be getting all of the nutritional benefits from those foods too.
But remember ‘slow and steady wins the race’. A rapid increase in fibre can cause cramps and make you feel bloated. So gradually increase your fiber intake over a period of 7-10 days and at the same time make sure you increase your water intake too. Upping the fibre without having enough fluids can block you up!
So make friends with fibre and reap the benefits!
My favorite fibre friendly foods – beans, legumes, lentils, fruit, vegetables, bran, traditional oats, nuts, chia seeds, quinoa, bulgar, barley & psyllium husk.