At some point in your life, you’d probably have googled some variant of “How to eat healthier”, and one of the most common advice you’d have gotten is to “have a balanced diet by eating more fibre”. But what exactly is a balanced diet and how is fibre important in maintaining a balanced diet?
Fibre is important and an essential in our daily diets — the Singapore Health Promotion Board recommends a daily fibre intake of 20g for women and 26g for men. The recommended two servings of fruits and vegetables a day doesn’t always cover the amount of fibre adults require in a day.
Studies have shown that people often do not consume enough fibre daily and they often struggle to do so, perhaps due to eating preferences, habits and inaccessibility to food that are high in fibre. The good news is, there are plenty of foods out there that are packed with fibre, and eating different types of food in moderation, for instance, cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables can help you to add fibre to your daily diet. There has also been an increasing demand for fibre-fortified food and beverage products in the market because of the multi-functional health benefits of dietary fibres, so it’s great if you’re trying to eat healthier.
Read on to find out why dietary fibre is important to our bodies and the sources of dietary fibre.
What is dietary fibre?
Dietary fibre comes from plants and is a type of carbohydrate that is indigestible. Unlike other types of carbohydrates that get broken down into sugar molecules, fibre cannot be broken down but passes through our bodies undigested. There are two types of fibre— insoluble and soluble, and both types are important for optimal health. There are many benefits to dietary fibre which is why consuming an adequate amount of fibre is so important to your health and wellbeing.
What are the health benefits of dietary fibre?
Apart from helping to improve your gut health by increasing bowel movement, fibre can also help to reduce your risk of developing several chronic diseases. Having an adequate amount of fibre in your diet can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity just to name a few. Other health-boosting properties of fibre include strengthening your immune system and nutrient absorption.
1. Dietary fibre helps to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
Soluble fibre is beneficial for people with diabetes as it helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream after meals and this prevents blood sugar spikes. This is because fibre helps to regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping you to achieve more consistent blood sugar levels. Having high blood sugar levels constantly is a risk factor of type 2 diabetes, especially if one’s body is unable to get rid of the sugar in the bloodstream fast enough. Fibre can help to prevent diabetes in those who are healthy, and for people with diabetes, better manage their condition.
2. Dietary fibre helps in weight management
If you’re trying to watch your weight, then consuming enough fibre should be your priority. Soluble and insoluble fibre can help you to manage your weight as the bulk from the fibres allows you to stay full longer and prevents you from overeating. This means that you’re more likely to feel full and more satisfied for a longer period of time after a meal, which might help you to cut back on all that snacking. High-fibre foods generally also contain fewer calories for the same amount of food as compared to those that are low in fibre. Consuming the recommended amount of fibre each day can thus help you to achieve a healthier weight and overcome obesity.
3. Dietary fibre helps to prevent constipation and improve gut health
Suffering from constipation is a painful experience. Luckily, fibre will help you to bring you some relief. In particular, a type of soluble fibre called Inulin might help you to soften your stool and loosen the bowel to promote regular bowel movement to maintain a healthier bowel function. Experts say that the fibre in wheat bran and oat bran might be more effective than the fibre from fruits and vegetables when it comes to relieving constipation. Dietary fibre also helps you to maintain a stronger intestinal barrier which helps to improve gut health.
4. Dietary fibre strengthens heart health to lower the risk of heart diseases
Studies have shown that consuming enough dietary fibre every day might help to lower the risk of heart disease by reducing your cholesterol levels. Fibre can help to lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and this helps to prevent the odds of getting heart disease.
There are other multi-functional benefits of dietary fibre including enhancing bone health, cognitive health and overall immunity.
How can you get enough fibre in your diet?
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of dietary fibre, the next step is to ensure that you have enough of it in your daily diet. You can easily add fibre to your diet by eating more plant-based foods such as fruits, leafy vegetables, whole grains (bran), legumes (beans) and nuts. Note that you should be eating fruits with their peels/skin on to ensure you get high amounts of fibre.
Here are some examples of foods with high fibre content:
- Baked beans, 2 tsp: 4.0g of fibre
- Red kidney beans, 1 tsp: 7.5g of fibre
- Orange, 1 small: 3.0g of fibre
- Guava, 1 medium: 4.0g of fibre
- Broccoli, 1 cup: 3.0g of fibre
- Spinach, 1 cup: 6.0g of fibre
- Wholemeal bread, 2 slices: 5.0g of fibre
While having a high-fibre diet is beneficial, experts recommend increasing your fibre intake gradually especially if you haven’t been consuming enough fibre before. Consuming too much fibre all of a sudden might aggravate your digestive tract, which might cause you to bloat, become gassy, and even constipated as fibre might act as a bulking agent. Moreover, you should drink more liquids as you increase your fibre intake since fibre absorbs water.
One way to increase overall amounts of fibre in your diet without changing the taste or texture of your carb-based food is to add Alchemy Fibre™. White rice cooked with Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice (100g) has a higher dietary fibre content than jasmine brown rice. Rice cooked with Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice also has a lower calorie content as compared to plain white or brown rice.
How can Alchemy Fibre™ help?
Alchemy Fibre™ is a patented plant-based fibre blend that helps slow down the glucose release of refined carbohydrates, like white rice. When added to the cooking process of white rice, Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice helps to slow down glucose release of white rice and increases fibre content by 10 times than that of usual white rice.
Available in various powdered blends, Alchemy Fibre™ is easy to add to rice, noodles, bread and even steamed buns before cooking.
Alchemy Fibre™ does not change the taste, texture or appearance of your food. Its versatility means that it can be used by food manufacturers, restaurants and home cooks.