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Are You Getting Enough Fibre?

Prepared by Nutritionist Chen Yin


Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is indigestible by enzyme during digestion. There are two main kinds of fibre, namely soluble and insoluble fibre. Each kind of fibre exert different functions and properties.

Soluble fibre aids in weight management as it slows down digestion and increase satiety faster by attracting water and forming a gel-like substance with food during digestion. It may help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease and regulate blood glucose levels as well.

Insoluble fibre is helpful in preventing constipation by adding bulk to stool, increasing peristalsis and reducing the gut transit time. It also may help balance pH and prevent inflammation of intestines.

The recommended daily intake of fibre for women and men is at least 21 to 25 grams and 30 to 38 grams respectively. It’s best to obtain fibre from a wide range of foods and target on a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Here are some tips to increase fibre intake:

  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal
  • Have fresh fruit for dessert
  • Snack on vegetables instead of pretzels and chips
  • Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, smoothies, or salads
  • Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week
  • Opt for whole grain foods instead of white rice, white bread, and white pasta
  • Include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal
  • Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water when you eat fibrous food

Many always associate insufficient fibre intake with constipation but fewer are aware that overconsumption of fibre may also cause the same issue. Apart from that, too much of fibre can also lead to bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, loose stools or diarrhea. In the case of overconsumption of fibre and experiencing the symptoms, you should drink plenty of water, avoid food with high fibre content and stop consuming any fibre supplements. You may also consider keeping track of your fibre intake by having a food diary to ensure you meet the daily requirement of fibre intake.

 

References

  1. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V, Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x. PMID: 19335713.

  2. Weickert MO, Pfeiffer AF. Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of diabetes. J Nutr. 2008 Mar;138(3):439-42. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.3.439. PMID: 18287346.

  3. Fiber: Summary (2011). lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/fiber

  4. Increasing fiber intake. (n.d.). ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/

  5. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

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