Why You Need Fibre in Your Diet

Two types of fibre have multiple functions your body can't live without

Credit: Flickr / little red hen

Red lentil and barley stew is a great source of fibre

There are two types of fibre you need to include in your diet

Fibre in your diet helps regulate your bowels and lower cholesterol levels. There are two types of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble – each of which serves a slightly different health-promoting function.

Soluble Fibre Has Endless Benefits

Soluble fibre binds with the fatty acids in foods, thereby lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This helps lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Soluble fibre also slows the movement of food through the stomach. This causes the sugars in foods to be released and absorbed more slowly, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Soluble fibre is also naturally filling without adding calories, making it a great aid to weight loss or to maintaining a healthy weight.

Good sources of soluble fibre: Oats, barley, lentils, beans, apples and berries.

Insoluble Fibre Plays an Important Role in Overall Health

Insoluble fibre (also known as roughage) mixes with fluid in the body to produce bulk. This helps moves food through the digestive system, promoting regularity and preventing constipation (as well as any buildup of toxic waste in the body).

It also balances the acidity of the intestines, which plays a role in preventing colon cancer.

Good sources of insoluble fibre: Whole grains, wheat bran, nuts and vegetables.

Add More Fibre to Your diet

Tip: Increase your fibre intake gradually as a sudden on-slaught of high-fibre foods can lead to gas and cramping.

Also, as fibre combines with fluids, drink more water to maximize the benefits. Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 25 grams (for women) to 38 grams (for men) of fibre a day. Studies have also shown that fibre can help you live longer.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.