Fibre is defined as the carbohydrate in food that the body is unable to digest. It passes through our digestive system helping to keep our bowel movements regular.
Sources of fibre include:
What are the benefits of fibre?
- Aids in digestion
- Controls blood sugar
- Lowers cholesterol
- May help with weight control
Insoluble vs. Soluble fibre
There are two types of fibre and both are equally as crucial for our health. These types of fibre provide the body with different benefits, which is why adding a variety of fibrous foods to your diet is key to ensure you are receiving the benefits of each.
Insoluble fibre helps to keep you regular by adding bulk to stool accelerating the transit time of food. Sources include wheat bran, whole grains and some vegetables and fruit.
Soluble fibre helps to lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood. Sources include vegetables such as carrots, eggplant, and legumes and fruit like citrus fruit and apples. Oat bran, barley and legumes are additional sources.
How much fibre is right for me?
There is no standard amount of fibre that is suitable for everyone. The reasoning behind why calorie intake varies person to person applies just the same for fibre consumption. On average adults should consume between 25-35 grams of fibre a day. To determine your personal recommended amount please refer below:
|Age group||Recommended amount per day|
|Children 1-3 years old||19 grams|
|Children 4-8 years old||25 grams|
|Boys 9-13 years old||31 grams|
|Boys 14-18 years old||38 grams|
|Girls 9-13 years old||26 grams|
|Girls 14-18 years old||26 grams|
|Men 19-50 years old||38 grams|
|Men 51 and over||30 grams|
|Women 19-50 years old||25 grams|
|Women 51 and over||21 grams|
|Pregnant women||28 grams|
|Breastfeeding women||29 grams|
Is it possible to consume too much fibre?
Yes. An excess amount of fibre can have the opposite desired effect. Too much fibre can actually cause someone to experience constipation, especially if not adequately hydrated. Most commonly symptoms experience with excess fibre include:
- Malabsorption of vitamins and minerals
To avoid these negative side effects it is important to increase fibre intake gradually over a period of several weeks. As fibre intake is increased water intake should be increased at the same rate. To keep hydrated individuals should be consuming between 8-12 glasses of water per day.