The most important nutrient people don’t think about

Often overlooked, dietary fibre plays a crucial role in nutrition. Fibre is a carbohydrate the body cannot fully digest or absorb. Unlike other nutrients, it goes through the digestive system intact, helping various bodily processes. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

The Benefits of Dietary Fiber:

  1. Improved Digestive Health: preventing constipation reduces the risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders such as diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. It may seem trivial, but we see this in hospital all the time.
  2. Weight Management: High-fibre foods are more filling and prevent overeating.
  3. Heart Health: Soluble fibre, found in foods like oats, beans, and fruits, can lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Blood Sugar Control: Fibre slows down the absorption of sugar, preventing rapid spikes in blood glucose levels.
  5. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Studies have shown that a high-fibre diet is associated with a lower risk of developing various chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

Ways to Incorporate More Dietary Fibre:

  1. Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain versions of bread, pasta, and rice, instead of refined grains. Better yet, just eat the grains themselves.
  2. Load Up on Fruits and Vegetables: Aim to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. Leave the skin on whenever possible, as it often contains fibre. Berries, apples, broccoli, and carrots are excellent choices.
  3. Legumes and Pulses: Incorporate legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans into your diet. They also have protein, making them a healthy addition to your meals.
  4. Nuts and Seeds: Include a handful of almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, or flaxseeds. They provide a good dose of fibre along with healthy fats and other essential nutrients. Proviso: if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t over do it here as caloric density is high.

Theme here, as with all nutrition, is to lean into a whole-food dietary pattern. For those who track, and you should do so once in awhile, target 30-40g of fibre daily.

Be well.