High Fibre foods – by Dr Harold Gunatillake – Health writer
Fibre is essential for your gut movements. It is recommended that you aim for 38 grams of fibre per day, and women 25 grams per day.
Dietary fibres are carbohydrates in the food you eat the humans haven’t got the enzymes to digest. They are found in all plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
There are two varieties if dietary fibre- the soluble and the insoluble. The soluble ones do absorb water in the gut and forms gel-like paste which slows down the digestion of food. The insoluble ones don’t dissolve in water and they just pass through as bulk. Most foods contain both types of fibre, and some contain one type more than the other.
Most insoluble fibre is contained in whole grains, wheat bran and some fruits like avocados and vegies like celery and cauliflower. These fibres are fermented by friendly gut microbes which are beneficial to feed them. The soluble ones are found in flaxseeds, beans, lentils, berries, bananas, and vegetables like carrot and broccoli.
Fibre keeps your gut active and healthy and maintains a regular bowel movement. Most people need to eat a fruit a day to keep of constipation, is a good example of dietary function. Some fibres are not only beneficial to move your bowels but also helps promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your bowels.
Soluble fibres are found in probiotics, like yogurt, oats, bananas and berries.
Fibre helps you to lose weight because they make you feel full and absorption is lowered. They too reduce your hunger and results in less eating of foods.
Fibre can lower blood sugar levels and your chances of getting diabetes is less? If you already had diabetes increasing fibre intake lowers blood sugar and improves your metabolic health.
When should you have a low fibre diet?
Low fibre diets limit fibre from nuts, seeds, veggies, grains and a few others. When you have surgery on your digestive tract you will be requested to go on a low fibre diet. After radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer you’ll need to go on a low residue diet. In a low residue diet you need to well-cook your food. Asparagus tips, beets, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, pumpkins, and spinach are the best foods when you go on a low residue diet.
Animal products like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish and shellfish have no fibre. These can be included in a low residue diet. Eating too much of fibre can cause bloating, pain and gas. Those who suffer from Irritable bowel Syndrome need to eat less fibre as they can worsen the symptoms. This is because high-fibre foods are high in fermentable carbs known as FODMAPS which will worsen your symptoms.
On the other hand high fibre diets helps diverticular disease, haemorrhoids and prevents bowel cancer, and lower risk of getting cardiovascular disease.
Good sources of fibre are- Oat bran ¾ cups contains 22grams of soluble fibre and 1gram of insoluble. Brown rice in ½ cup contains 13grams of soluble fibre and insoluble fibre content is nil. Most seeds including flaxseed in 10grams contain 12 grams of soluble fibre and 1gram of insoluble fibre.
Eating oatmeal in the morning with added milk is one of the best healthy breakfast meals. You could eat oats porridge every morning and not boring as other foods.Resistant starch: In addition to dietary fibre resistant starch seems to delay digestion in the small intestines. Friendly gut microbes seem to ferment resistant starch and keep the gut lining healthy. This sort of starch is found in slightly undercooked pasta, in under ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes and commercial breads and cereals keeping cooked rice in the fridge over-night also produce resistant starch.
100 grams of psyllium husk contains about 60-70 grams of soluble fibre, namely mucilage. It is used for the treatment of constipation, mild diarrhoeas, irritable bowel syndrome and haemorrhoids.
Psyllium tends to lower absorption of LDL cholesterol, and prevents colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. Psyllium must be taken with lot of fluid as it can form a hard mass in the bowel and cause bowel obstruction. So always take the recommended amounts by checking on the label.
Ref: EcoWatch- Authority Nutrition
Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar for higher studies in UK.