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What is Fibre

Fibre are long chains of glucose molecules, also known as non-starchy polysaccharides. Humans do not produce the enzyme capable of breaking down fibre, therefore fibre is typically considered a non-nutrient. However, some microorganisms in our GI track can break down some fibres to some extent. Fibre is essentially endogenous components of plant material that is ingested from our diet, that is resistant to digestion. Different types of fibre are comprised of different chains of monosaccharides with different structures, and therefore different properties and functions.  Despite fibre being a non nutrient and barely digested, fibre offers many health benefits for humans.

What Are The Benefits of Fibre?

Fibre (especially viscous) will delay gastric emptying, leading to a feeling of fullness. This can in turn help with weight control, in addition to nutrient extraction. Delaying gastric emptying can further reduce postprandial blood glucose, and therefore have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity.

Microflora in the GI can ferment fibres to produce short chain fatty acids. Through this anaerobic fermentation, fibre can yield around 1.5-2.5 kcal per gram.

Fibre has been shown to interfere with the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol, in addition to the enterohepatic recirculation of cholesterol and bile acids, which can reduce blood cholesterol concentrations and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Where Does Fibre Come From?

Fibre comes only from plants. It includes cellulose, pectin, hemicellulose, mucilage, lignan, inulin, tannin as well as phytate.

Total fibre = dietary fibre (the fibre that is consumed and not digested from plants) + functional fibre (the fibre that is isolated and extracted that is added to food for health benefits)

There are two types of fibre: soluble + insoluble

Soluble Fibre will dissolve in water and form a gel. This will delay gastric emptying (which will allow you to feel full longer), allow more time for nutrients to be in contact with the GI lumen (which will increase nutrient absorption), as well as help decrease cholesterol.

Sources of soluble fibre are: pectins (fruits), some legumes, oats, flaxseed, rye, barley, psyllium, and some hemicelluloses.

Insoluble Fibre, which comes from cellulose and lignans, does not dissolve in water. Therefor they will increase fecal weight and mass, decrease transit time, and slow down glucose absorption and starch hydrolysis.
Sources of insoluble fibre are: are vegetables, wheat and cereals.

How Much Fibre Should I Consume?

a general guideline is to consume around 14 grams of fibre per 1000kcal.
women should consume around 25 grams of fibre daily.
men should consume around 38 grams daily.
children should also consume around 25 grams daily.
add fibre slowly into the diet along with water.

What does 5 grams of fibre look like?

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup navy beans
  • 1/2 cup blackberries / raspberries
  • 1 pear
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup bran cereal