“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” — Michael Pollan
Fibre offers a wealth of nutrition and health benefits. But, fibre may also conjure up images of dry bran muffins, cereal that tastes like cardboard, and concoctions mixed into water (and drinking them as quickly as possible!).
InspireHealth Registered Dietitians are here to help provide some ideas for delicious ways to incorporate fibre into your daily food intake that will benefit both your health and your taste buds.
Benefits of fibre:
- Enhancing your body’s natural detoxification and elimination process
- Balancing blood sugar
- Feeling full and satisfied after meals
- Managing cholesterol levels
- Feeding your gut microbiota (‘community of bacteria’ in our digestive tract)
Fibre is material derived from plants that can’t be digested (absorbed) by us humans but can be broken down by our gut microbiota. In fact, the microbes in our intestines thrive on fibre. When our gut microbes are healthy, they help us by producing certain vitamins and anti-inflammatory compounds that support our health.
Fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Most fibre-rich foods contain some of both and both are beneficial to our health.
- Forms a gel when water is added and acts like a sponge to help lower cholesterol, draw more water into the intestines, and soften stool
- Useful for diarrhea as well as constipation
- Examples of whole food sources include oats, barley, beans, apples, pears, blueberries, and psyllium
- Roughage that acts like a “scrub brush” for the intestines and speeds the movement of waste through the digestive tract
- Useful for constipation but it’s beneficial to limit this if you’re experiencing diarrhea
- Examples of whole food sources include whole wheat and bran, brown rice, popcorn, nuts, beans, skins of veggies and fruits, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), and leafy greens
*Please note that high fibre diets may not be appropriate for everyone, especially if you have been advised to follow a low fibre diet (e.g., after bowel surgery). Please consult with a Registered Dietitian (RD) if you have questions about this!
Here are some delicious ways to incorporate more fibre into your daily routine:
- Snack on air-popped popcorn
- Try avocadoes or homemade baked beans, mashed on whole wheat or sprouted grain toast
- Make a fruit crisp with a variety of berries, rolled oats, and flax or chia seeds for dessert
- Make your own trail mix with coconut flakes, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and raisins or dates
- Replace ½ of the ground meat in a recipe with beans (e.g., in meatballs or tacos)
- Add avocadoes, berries, cooked oatmeal or wheat bran to your smoothies
- Try chickpeas roasted with your favourite spices and olive oil for a crunchy snack
- Substitute white rice with brown rice, wild rice or quinoa
- Try meatless meals featuring beans at least twice per week
Fibre provides a wealth of health benefits for you and your gut microbes alike, in addition to supporting everything moving smoothly through your digestive system.
Find great fibre-rich recipes at https://www.inspirehealth.ca/resources/recipes/