Are you getting enough of this dietary staple? If not, here’s why missing your daily dose can slow you down in more ways than one.
Having enough daily fibre in your diet has become increasingly important because fibre helps support a smoother, more functional digestive system while providing stronger immunity and overall well-being.
But did you know that even though you make an effort to eat healthy, you may still have trouble reaching your daily fibre requirement?
Most of us average only half of the recommended 25 to 30 grammes of dietary fibre per day, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics in the United States. Yet the current average daily intake of fibre is 15 grammes, as the typical diet includes many foods with high calories such as white bread, doughnuts, fizzy drinks, juices and red meat; to name a few.
It’s impractical, however, to think you can get your daily fibre requirement from food alone, even though you can find it in edible plants including fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes. For example, you would need to eat about 10 apples or bananas every day to obtain your daily fibre requirement.
An unfortunate result of our lack of dietary fibre is a substantial burden on the health care system and on our individual health as well. This is known as the ‘fibre gap’, as limited fibre intake has been associated with colon cancer and metabolic syndrome.
The ‘fibre gap’ exists for two reasons: people think fibre supplements are primarily for maintaining a regular digestive system, and traditional forms of fibre supplements such as powder or capsules are inconvenient to take.
“Dietary fibre is known for keeping our bodies regular,” says Michael Epstein, a leading US gastroenterologist.
“Most importantly, it’s essential that you get enough fibre in your diet. One way to do that is to supplement your daily intake of dietary fibre with natural, pre-biotic fibre supplements.”
If you do choose to go down that route, try to find supplements containing inulin (pronounced: in-yoo-lin), a natural fibre found in many fruit and vegetables. Inulin works by helping to build healthy, good bacteria in the colon while keeping food moving through the digestive system. This can soften stools and improve bowel function.
Research shows that the digestive system does more than digest food; it plays a central role in the immune system. The healthy bacteria that live in the digestive tract promote immune system function so it’s important to nourish the body with fibre. Inulin has secondary benefits, too, of possibly lowering cholesterol, balancing blood chemistry and regulating appetite; all of which can help reduce calorie intake and play a supporting role in weight management.
But getting enough fibre in one’s diet can be a challenge. So, try these tips to increase the amount of fibre in yours:
• Make your grains whole
Read labels and swap out conventional grains for wholewheat when buying bread and pasta products and choose brown rice over white
• Make your veggies green
Green vegetables including beans, spinach, cabbage, and asparagus are good sources of dietary fibre.
• Go bananas
Many types of fruit are high in fibre but bananas are an especially rich source. Add mashed bananas to muffins, smoothies or a bowl of oatmeal as a way to increase fibre intake.
• Add a supplement
Sometimes eating enough fibre-rich food is a challenge so choose a dietary fibre supplement with pre-biotic effects designed to promote the same health benefits as the fibre found naturally in foods.