Fibre has continuously been linked to a wide array of health benefits through scientific evidence. These health benefits include the treatment and prevention of constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticulosis, lowering blood cholesterol, reducing risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, protection against certain forms of cancer and increasing satiety (feeling of fullness) which assists with weight management. Despite all of these health benefits and the population’s knowledge of them, most people still fall short of the recommended daily allowance of 25g for women and 38g for men (adolescent and adult), averaging only at about 15g per day.
NATURAL SOURCES OF FIBRE
To gain the maximum benefits of a high-fibre diet, it is suggested to consume a variety of fibres. This can be done by consuming a variety of foods naturally rich is fibre. Many whole plant foods (fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds etc.) are rich in different types of dietary fibre such as pectin, gum, mucilage, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Below is a table of foods naturally rich in dietary fibre which can be used to boost your fibre intake:
|Food||Serving size||Amount of fibre (g)|
|FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes and Barley with Probiotic Capsules||45g||9.9|
|Oat bran, raw||30g||12|
|Brown rice||1 cup||4|
|Bread, whole-wheat||1 slice||2|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat||1 cup||6|
|Barley, pearled||1 cup||6|
|Oats, traditional||½ cup||4|
|Beans (all kinds)||½ cup||6 – 9.5|
|Split peas||½ cup||8.1|
|Lentils, cooked||½ cup||7.8|
|Food||Serving size||Amount of fibre (g)|
|Apple with skin||1 medium||4|
|Orange, raw||1 medium||3.1|
|Figs, dried||½ cup||8|
|Sweet potato, with peal||1 cup medium (146g)||4.8|
|Brussel sprouts||½ cup||3|
|Parsnips, cooked||½ cup||2.8|
|Spinach, cooked||½ cup||2|
|Hubbard squash, cooked||½ cup||3.5|
|Nuts and seeds|
|Sunflower seeds||¼ cup||3|
GENERAL TIPS TO INCREASE NATURAL DIETARY FIBRE IN YOUR DIET
- Eats beans, peas and lentils regularly.
- Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
- Keep the skin on fruit and vegetables.
- Vary between cooked and raw vegetables.
- Choose wholegrain starches such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, pasta, crackers, bulgur.
- Enjoy nuts, seeds and dried fruit as snacks or sprinkled over salads.
- Drink at least 2 litres (8 glasses) of water per day.
Fibre supplements generally consist of “functional fibres” that have been manufactured or extracted from plants which have been shown to have beneficial physiological functions. Some of these fibres include psylium, inulin, chitin, polydextrose, acacia and beta-glucans. All functional fibres are either soluble or insoluble fibres which have different benefits and functions. Soluble fibre has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol. Some soluble fibres are also prebiotics which stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. For those who struggle to meet their fibre requirements, fibre supplements are definitely a way to fill the gap.
Potential side-effects of fibre supplements
Although the use fibre supplements are a very convenient way to boost your fibre intake, if you take too much they may cause some uncomfortable side effects and interfere with the absorption of important nutrients.
- Too much fibre can cause diarrhoea (a runny tummy), abdominal pain, gas and bloating. Fibres such as guar gum, inulin, oligofructose, polydextrose, resistant starch and psylium have been found to cause abdominal discomfort when taken in excess.
- Excess fibre can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium by binding to these minerals. Studies have shown that fibres such as pectin and guar gum can reduce absorption of carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein when consumed at the same time as a meal.
WHICH IS BETTER?
As it is with all of the nutrients we need, it is always better to obtain them from food before supplements. So to meet your daily fibre requirements always aim to achieve it by consuming fibre-rich foods such as those discussed above as they not only provide you with a variety of fibres but also several other vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. However, for those who struggle to meet their daily fibre requirements, incorporating fibre supplements as part of a well-balanced diet can help close the gap.
WHERE DOES FUTURELIFE® FIT IN?
The FUTURELIFE® product range all contain dietary fibre which is naturally sourced from the raw ingredients SmartMaize™ and FutureSoy. FUTURELIFE® ZERO Smart food™contains the functional fibre acacia fibre which has been clinically studied and found to improve satiety (feeling of fullness) as well as insulin sensitivity. All of the FUTURELIFE® boxed products can be used as part of a well-balanced diet to achieve your recommended daily intake of fibre.
- J Slavin. Fibre and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5:1417-1435
- GR Gibson, N Delzenne. Inulin and Oligofructose New Scientific Developments. Nutrition Today. 2008;43(2):54-59