Getting Friendly with Fibre
Last week we talked about stimulating your digestive fire so that your body can properly prepare to begin breaking down your foods into the nutrients that it needs to thrive. The next best thing to do to keep your digestive system on point is by getting more fibre from your whole foods! With so much access to processed foods these days, most people's fibre intakes are much too low. The processing of foods strips down the fibre that you would normally get from a whole food. Getting more fibre into your meals help control blood sugar levels (reducing spikes in energy levels and cravings), binds to toxins in the gut, and improves elimination.
Funny enough, dietary fibre isn't actually digested, or absorbed by the body, per say. Instead, it's purpose is to pass relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. It helps to create bulk and binds with waste products in the gut to help eliminate them from the body so that they're not absorbed back into the bloodstream. When waste is not eliminated on a regular basis via the digestive system, it begins to build up and will try to eliminate via the skin, one of our biggest elimination organs. Even excess hormones are eliminated by proper digestion, so without this regular elimination, hormone levels in the body can go out of whack.
It's good to note that there are 2 types of fibre which are commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn't dissolve.
- Soluble fibre: This type of fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material which can be quite soothing on the gut lining. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Certain fruits and vegetables are especially rich in soluble fibre. Among fruits, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons are quite high in soluble fibre, as are berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Apples and pears also provide soluble fibre, as do bananas. Legumes such as peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans are exceptionally rich in soluble fibre, as are both white and sweet potatoes. Certain grains are also good sources of soluble fibre. These include buckwheat, oats, psyllium, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds.
- Insoluble fibre: This type of fibre promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Many vegetables are excellent sources of insoluble fibre. These include most leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards and turnip greens, and many other vegetables, including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. In addition, consuming potatoes with their skin adds insoluble fibre to this soluble fibre-rich food, as does eating apples and pears with their peels. All whole grains with their bran intact are excellent sources of insoluble fibre, such as whole (vs. ground) flax seeds. Some nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts, also provide insoluble fibre.
Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fibre foods. When introducing more fibre into your diet, make sure you're staying well hydrated throughout the day. Also, cooking your high-fibre foods will help break down the fibres slightly so that they're a little more gentle on your digestive system.
Having some whole grain and nut based breads on hand at home are another easy way to get some extra fibre into your days, and also to keep you away from highly processed white breads.
View our post on the 3 Best Gluten-Free Fibre Friendly Bread Recipes here!
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