Fibre

Feel Full, Help With Bowel Movements And More!

1. What are they and where do they come from?

Fibre is an indigestible substance that comes from the walls of plant cells. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble [roughage]. The solubility of a fibre refers to its ability to dissolve in water.

As the names indicate, soluble fibres dissolve in water, while insoluble fibres do not. Within the two categories of fibre, there are several subcategories. Soluble Insoluble Gums Pectins Mucilages Cellulose Hemicellulose Lignin Dietary sources of fibre include vegetables, fruits, grains, psyllium, oat bran, guar gum, and beans.

2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

Fibre is best known for its ability to induce bowel movements. Although it has been used for thousands of years to treat constipation, fibre is known to enhance health in many ways. For example, insoluble fibre contributes to feelings of fullness. Because fibre cannot be digested, it acts as dietary “filler.” When consumed, fibre occupies space in the stomach, and upon absorbing water and macronutrients, expands in volume. Resulting from the consumption of insoluble dietary fibre, individuals may experience fullness [satiety], a decrease in overall caloric intake, and possible weight loss.

Soluble fibre has been shown to reduce the speed of gastric emptying. The slowing of gastric emptying will result in prolonged feelings of fullness. This, theoretically, will result in an overall reduction of consumed calories, thus contributing to weight loss. Therefore, if weight loss is your goal, it is important that fibre is consumed, regardless of type.

3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Everyone should consume a minimum amount of fibre daily. Athletes and people looking to lose weight can benefit from consuming fibre.

For people looking to lose weight, the inclusion of fibre, especially when eating meals high in saturated fats, may contribute to weight loss in two ways. The first way has to do with the ability of the fibre to expand in the stomach, thus speeding the onset of satiety, and thus a decrease in the caloric mass of food eaten. The second way has to do with fibres ability to absorb macronutrients. When fibre absorbs fat molecules, the fat molecules are unable to be metabolised and thus pass through the body. This means, simply, that they fail to be stored as bodyfat.

For athletes, the inclusion of dietary fibre into a nutritional program may prove beneficial when dieting down and attempting to reduce body fat, and when attempting to increase insulin levels naturally, without having to resort to the consumption of simple or refined carbohydrates. Consumption of simple carbohydrates may lead to fat storage; consumption of fibre will not. What’s more, the use of fibre, and specifically pectin, will slow the rate at which consumed carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream. This will result in avoiding unnecessary insulin spikes that encourage the storage of body fat.

When on a high protein diet, constipation is a possibility and so is intestinal inflammation. Individuals suffering from constipation may benefit from the consumption of insoluble fiber,9 and research has also demonstrated that intestinal inflammations occur less frequently in those who consume adequate levels of dietary fiber.10

4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

25 to 30 grammes for adults is recommended daily.11 Consuming too much fibre can result in the body being unable to absorb some vitamins and minerals.12 For this reason, when consuming large amounts of fibre, it is important to increase protein intake, as high fibre intake may also block the absorption of macronutrients.

Diabetics and individuals suffering from sclerosis should consult with a qualified physician prior to use.

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