What is dietary fibre?
Dietary fibre is contained exclusively in plant-based foods, as the fibres are the plants’ "scaffolding". Dietary fibre is also called roughage. But it is anything but rough on our digestive system: it really benefits our health. That’s why the recommended daily intake of fibre is at least 30 grams.
Dietary fibre cannot be broken down in the intestine, or at least not entirely. For that reason, it supplies very little energy. As it swells in the stomach, it reinforces the feeling of fullness, helping prevent weight gain. It also ensures that blood sugar rises less sharply after a meal.
Provided enough fluids are drunk with high-fibre foods, they can counteract constipation. Certain dietary fibres, such as beta glucans from oats, also have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Furthermore, studies have suggested that dietary fibre can minimize the risk of bowel cancer.
Dietary fibre plays a particular role in nutrition. Some good sources of dietary fibre are:
- fruit and vegetables
- wholegrain products
- nuts and seeds
Wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta contain more than twice the dietary fibre of products made from white flour. The same is true of wholegrain rice compared with white rice.
You can up your intake of dietary fibre by following these tips:
- A bowl of Bircher muesli with oats, fresh fruit and linseed or chia seeds is the perfect start to the day.
- Choose wholemeal versions of pasta and bread.
- Add nuts or seeds to salads or soups.
- Nuts and dried fruits are a valuable source of fibre as a snack.
- Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Use wholemeal flour when baking. In recipes with white flour, you can usually substitute some of the white flour with wholemeal flour without affecting the outcome.
Please note: make sure you drink plenty with high-fibre foods. Otherwise, fibre can be conducive to constipation.