Adding Up the Fibre
Most Canadians consume about only half the recommended amount of dietary fibre each day. According to Health Canada’s 2004 Canadian Community Healthy Survey Cycle 2.2, on average Canadian men and women consume 18.2 grams and 14.7 grams of fibre per day, respectively (Li, C. & Uppal, M., 2010). This is below the recommended adequate intake of 25grams for women and 38 grams for men or 14g of fibre for every 1000kcal consumed (Thompson, J., Manore, M. & Sheeshka, J., 2007).
Some common questions about fibre include;
- Why is fibre important/what are the nutritional benefits?
- What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre?
- How can I increase my fibre intake?
- Can I have too much fibre?
Research suggests that dietary fibre can help us stay healthy and may prevent many digestive and chronic diseases.
**Remember fibre intake should be gradually increased while making sure to have sufficient water intake (Read Hydration 101). It takes about several weeks for you colon to adapt to a high-fibre diet**
- Fibre can help prevent hemorrhoids and constipation by keeping stool moist and soft. This promotes regular bowel movements and strengthens your intestinal muscles
- Fibre may enhance weight loss as it increases your feeling of fullness. This is due to soluble fibre which expands with water in our digestive tract and slows the movement of food.
- Along with a nutritious diet and physical activity dietary fibre (specifically soluble fibre) can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol and also contributing a small amount of good fatty acids which may help lower LDL levels.
- As fibre slows the absorption of your foods in your intestinal tract, it results in a slow release of glucose into your blood stream allowing for better blood glucose control.
(Thompson, J. et al., 2007)
2. Soluble vs. Insoluble
The simplified categories for fibre are soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre absorbs water and well to become gel like caps that trap different nutrients such as glucose. The food sits in the small intestine for a longer period of time which slows down the absorption of other foods. This is useful for people with diabetes or for people with irritable bowel syndrome who suffer from diarrhea (Thompson, J. et al., 2007). Water-soluble fibres include naturally occurring pectins in fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries etc. Also found in gums and mucilage of oatmeal, oat bran, barley and legumes.
Insoluble fibre attracts water, but it “clings” to it instead of being absorbed. Insoluble fibres help add bulk to stool. This helps move contents through the large intestine more quickly and prevents constipation. Foods containing lignin such as vegetables, cellulose in wheat and hemicellulose in cereals and vegetables are all forms of insoluble fibre.
If you would enjoy a more complex explanation of fibre please visit: http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Fibre/Fibre-Up.aspx
|Food Item||Serving Size||Total Fibre (g)||Soluble Fibre (g)||Insoluble Fibre(g)|
|Bran Cereal||½ cup||10.0||0.3||9.7|
|Whole grain bread||1 slice||2.9||0.08||2.8|
|Rolled Oats||¾ cups cooked||3.0||1.3||1.7|
|Rye Bread||1 slice||2.7||0.8||1.9|
|Brown Rice||½ cup cooked||1.3||1.3||0|
|Black Berries||½ cup||3.7||0.7||3.0|
|Peas||½ cup cooked||5.2||2.0||3.2|
|Kidney Beans||½ cup cooked||4.5||0.5||4.0|
|Lentils||2/3 cups cooked||4.5||0.6||3.9|
|Chick Peas||½ cup cooked||6||1.0||5.0|
*Approximate amounts; please refer to Nutrition Facts label for each food item if available
3. Adding More Fibre to Your Day:
An easy way to increase your fibre intake would be to look at the current foods you select and perhaps make some substitutions and/or additions.
For breakfast it is recommended that we consume at least 5 grams of fibre. You could select a high fibre cereal such as Kashi Golean Crunch (1 cup= 8 grams fibre, 9 grams protein), Raisin Bran (1 cup= 6.5 grams of fibre, 5.1 grams of protein) or Fibre One Honey Cluster (1 cup= 13grams fibre, 5 grams of protein). Another option is to have whole grain bread with eggs or low fat cheese. Some good options for breads include; Stone Mill Fibre and Fruit bread (2 slices= 4grams fibre, 6 grams protein) or Dimpilmeier Healthy Living Prebiotic bread (2 slices= 6 grams of fibre, 8 grams of protein).
Snacks could include; adding All Bran Buds to your yogurt, either a fruit (with the skin) or mixed vegetables with low fat cheese or yogurt dip. Even a nice mixed bean salad could be used for a snack or a side dish in a meal. Edemame beans pack a double whammy of fibre and protein. For ½ cup there is 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. They can be found unshelled at your local grocery store in the frozen food isle.
If you are having trouble meeting your daily target, a fibre bar could be used. Gnu’s Flavor and Fibre contains 12 grams of dietary fibre (9grams soluble, 3 grams insoluble) and 4 grams of protein. Fibre One bars generally contain approximately 9 grams of dietary fibre and 3 grams of protein.
4. Too Much of a Good Thing
Consumption of too much fibre can lead to intestinal gas, bloating and constipation. It is important to drink an adequate amount of water with increasing your dietary fibre to prevent stool from becoming hard, dry and difficult to pass. Also fibre binds with water making dehydration a possibility if too much is consumed. Lastly, high fibre foods that contain phytates, (commonly found in wheat bran) can reduce the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals if consumed in large quantities.
Dietitians of Canada (2010) Food sources of fibre. Retrieved from http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Fibre/Food-Sources-of-Fibre.aspx
Li, C. & Uppal, M. (2010) Canadian Diabetes Association National Nutrition Committee Clinical Update on Dietary Fibre in Diabetes: Food Sources to Physiological Effects. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 34(4):355-361
Thompson, J., Manore, M., Sheeshka, J.(2007) Nutrition a functional approach (1st ed). Toronto: ON. Pearson Education Canada