What makes fibre so good for our health?
Getting enough daily fibre in our diet is known to benefit our health in 3 main ways:
- Helps to keep our digestive system healthy
Fibre helps to bulk up stools (Poo) it also absorbs more water both helping the waste move through the gut more easily.
- Helps reduce risk of Cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and bowel cancer
Fibre is known to help in preventing obesity, which can increase risks of the above diseases. Increased fibre intake can help us feel full, making us less likely to snack or over eat.
A type of fibre called beta-glucan found in oats and barley, has been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol when consumed daily as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Certain types of fibre are known to reduce the speed of food digestion, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable which can improve insulin sensitivity and prevent or improve type II diabetes.
The protective effects of fibre against the development of bowel cancer may be down to its actions on helping waste move more easily through the gut. It may also be due to certain types of fibre providing food for gut bacteria, which in turn produce chemicals beneficial to the bowel.
Increases good gut bacteria
Increasingly, it is known that a fibre rich diet can improve the variety and numbers of beneficial microorganisms living in our gut.
Certain types of fibre, known as prebiotics provide food for these organisms helping them to multiply and produce more substances known to be protective in numerous ways, such as short chain fatty acids.
How much fibre do we need?
The latest guidelines, recommend that adults should be eating around 30g of fibre each day, currently, we are only eating on average 18g per day.
For children the recommended average amounts per day are:
2-5 years 15g
5-11 years 20g
11-16 years 25g
Increasing our intake of vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrain foods, alongside reducing our intake of highly processed foods, will not only help to boost our fibre levels but also our levels of many other beneficial nutrients.