Fibre is the part of plants that is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine, and is fully or partially fermented in the large bowel. Adding to the bulk of the stool, fibre is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, cereals and fruit and vegetables. It also helps to promote the growth of good bacteria in the bowel. Fibre can be classified as soluble or insoluble.
Insoluble fibre adds to the bulk of the stool, helps to keep the bowels regular, and is found in:
- Husks, peels and skins of foods
- Green beans
- Whole grains
Soluble fibre is viscous or sticky, swells, and like insoluble fibre, adds to the bulk of the stool. Soluble fibre also slows down the release of sugars from foods into circulation, helps promote bile production, and aids bacterial growth in the large intestines. Soluble fibre is found in:
- Psyllium husk
Overall, dietary fibre:
- Softens the stool, and decreases the transit time of food in the bowel, helping keep bowel motions regular and frequent
- Adds bulk, and minimises the time that waste stays in the bowel.
- Maintains a lower pH in the bowel, which benefits the environment for good bacteria
- Fermentation of fibre provides fuel for the cells in the bowel and also helps the immune system
- May help manage healthy cholesterol levels, by binding with cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract
Fibre for women
Fibre helps to clear away excess oestrogen and prevents it from being recirculated from the gut Excess oestrogen can be a problem as it may increase cell growth in oestrogen sensitive tissues, such as in the uterus and breast, which can lead to fibroids, endometriosis, heavy periods, and fibrocystic breast disease. For more information on excess oestrogen please see: http://www.blackmores.com.au/learning-centre/article/oestrogen-too-little-too-much
There are a couple of mechanisms whereby fibre may help with oestrogen clearance. Firstly, by increasing the transit time of waste in the gut, oestrogen is more likely to be eliminated than be reabsorbed. Also, fibre helps increase the function of good bacteria, which further assists the healthy clearance of oestrogen.
It is recommended that women are recommended to consume approximately 25 grams of fibre daily for health benefits. Below is a list of the fibre content of common foods, modified from Food Standards Australia.
|| Fibre content/100 g
| Mixed grain bread
|| 4.8 g
| Pear, unpeeled
||2.1- 3.2 g
|| 2.4 g
| Rolled oats, raw
|| 9.5 g
| Red kidney beans, canned and drained
|| 6.5 g
| Wholemeal pasta, boiled
|| 5.3 g
| Muesli, natural
|| 9.8 g
| Carrot, raw
|| 3.9 g
| Pumpkin, peeled, boiled
|| 2.7 g
| Sweet corn, boiled
|| 4.8 g
Did you know that fibre increases your feeling of fullness?
For example, a bowl of oats may aid in weight loss, as apposed to a bowl of corn flakes, as it will help manage your appetite better, keeping you fuller for longer, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
References available upon request