When we hear the word fibre, we may initially think about something onerous or even superfluous. But the truth is quite the opposite: fibre is good for our bodies in a variety of ways and should be included in our daily diet.
Plant fibre is found in plant-based foods, such as fruit and vegetables, grains and grain products, pulses, nuts and potatoes. While fruit and vegetables contain water-soluble fibres like pectin, whole grain products contain insoluble fibres, such as cellulose. Fibre is also known as non-digestible carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates cannot be digested, or can only be partly digested, by the human body. A sufficient amount of fibre can be obtained each day by eating whole grain bread, potatoes, apples, berries, kiwi and sweet peppers, for example.
Benefits for your digestion
So what are the advantages of eating plant fibres? The benefits begin in the mouth: we really need to thoroughly chew a crunchy apple or a hearty slice of whole grain bread. As a result, we feel full for longer and have fewer cravings. Once the fibre has reached the large intestine, another feature becomes apparent – its vast swelling properties.
The fibre becomes saturated with water, thus increasing stool volume. As a result of this stimulation on the intestinal wall, the digestive process gains momentum and is made easier. A high-fibre diet can therefore prove very helpful for anyone suffering from constipation.
Various positive effects for your health
Fibre can also bind harmful substances as well as nutrients. For this reason, it should be included in the diets of people with diabetes and high cholesterol. By binding glucose, also known as blood sugar, the glucose can be absorbed more slowly from the food, via the intestine, into the blood.
Blood sugar levels therefore rise steadily and less significantly and can be reduced faster and by using less insulin. This effect can be useful not only for those with type 2 diabetes but may also help to prevent the onset of this type of diabetes.
Fibre, especially the soluble fibre found in fruit and vegetables, also binds bile acids to itself. Because the liver is then not forced to draw on cholesterol to manufacture new bile acids, cholesterol levels in the blood fall. This in turn can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The versatile plant fibres are also good for the intestinal flora, leading to the assumption that fibre has a protective effect against colon cancer. Intensive research is currently being conducted on this link.
Fibre in your daily diet
It is very easy to include the daily amount of fibre in our daily diet. Most of our diet should consist of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grain products. Anyone who examines their usual dietary habits will quickly find high-fibre alternatives to white bread, desserts and white rice. Apples, pears, kiwis, berries and citrus fruits are a particularly good source of fibre. Where possible, the skin should also be eaten. Add to this a colourful selection of vegetables and all types of whole grain products and the result is a healthy and enjoyable diet. We also need to drink enough – at least 1.5 litres a day.