When it comes to our diet, we tend to concentrate on calories, carbohydrates and fats, and a proper diet plan will put the necessary emphasis on those components. But one component of your diet that you should not neglect is fibre. Although often it is not taken with enough seriousness, it is something that will fuel your health and help control your weight. The following are some helpful facts that you should know about this important part of your diet.
1. Grains offer a lot of fibre. Dietary fibre is really plant matter that we are unable to digest. Any food made from corn, rice, oats or wheat is a grain product. The two main products from grains are whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains include the entire grain, which are the bran, germ and endosperm. When a grain is refined, or milled, only the endosperm remains, and even when these refined grains are enriched, fibre is not added back. Therefore it is important to consume whole grain products such as porridge oats, whole-wheat bread and brown rice.
2. Fibre fights diseases. Fibre has been known to help prevent heart disease and colon cancer. Probably the greatest immediate benefits we can get from fibre are its helping digestion. It binds and eliminates cholesterol in the digestive tract, and has been used to stop constipation for centuries.
3. Fibre can control your weight. In at least a couple of ways, it is a great fat loss food. Because fibre takes longer to chew and digest, causing you to eat less and feel full longer. Another way is it will cause you to drink more water. Because water has no calories, the more water you drink the less calorie-full food you will feel like eating. And you will want to drink water to keep the fibre moving through the digestive tract.
4. Kids need fibre. It is important for children over two years old to get daily quantities of fibre, ideally in fruits and vegetables.
5. You can’t cook fibre out of food. Unlike many nutrients in food, fibre is there to stay no matter how much you cook it. Plus the fibre is throughout the fruit or vegetable that you are cooking, not just in the skin, so it’s not always an issue if you peel.
6. It is possible to consume too much fibre. You can have too much of a good thing, which is about 45-50 grams per day for a typical male. The typical outcomes will be abdominal discomfort, blockages and constipation, flatulence, stomach discomfort, and possibly weight gain. Many issues with excessive fibre come from insufficient water consumption.
So clearly we need enough fibre, but we can have issues if we consume too much. But before you start cutting back on your fibre intake, be aware of just how much fibre you must consume to get up to this maximum. For example, a large apple has about five grams, a large hand full of cooked broccoli three grams. Foods with the highest concentrations of fibre are kidney and pinto beans with 15-19 grams per cup, lentils with 16, and peas, chickpeas and black-eyed peas with 11-16 grams per cup. Unless you eat mass quantities of fibre rich food, you probably will be safe if you keep your water consumption up.