Dietary fibre is essential for good digestive health. Fibre can be categorized as soluble and insoluble, with insoluble fibre acting on intestinal transit to keep you regular, and soluble fibre helping to lower blood cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels.
The Canadian recommendation for daily fibre intake is:
According to Health Canada, most Canadians only consume half the daily recommended intake of fibre. Here are a few tips to help you increase your fibre consumption.
Whole grains have the highest fibre content compared with other types of grain. Examples include barley, brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat and popcorn. There is also a large variety of bread, pasta and crackers that are made with whole-grain flour.
To make healthier choices at the grocery store, always read the Nutrition Facts table. Choose foods with at least 2 to 4 grams of fibre per serving.
Legumes like chickpeas, dried beans, and lentils are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They contain between 11 and 16 grams per portion of 250 ml (1 cup).
Try incorporating legumes into your diet gradually, to avoid gas and bloating. Another trick is to rinse canned legumes first.
Nuts and seeds are another simple way to add fibre to your diet. Since they are a high-calorie food, a small handful (approx. ½ cup) is enough for a snack.
When you peel your fruits and vegetables, you reduce their fibre content, sometimes significantly. Avoid peeling thin-skinned fruits and veggies like carrots, potatoes, apples, peaches, pears, and even kiwis, if possible.
It’s best to eat your fruits whole as opposed to juicing them, as the juice, even if rich in pulp, contains little or no fibre at all. One exception is prune juice, which is rich in sorbitol, a substance with laxative properties.
If you are finding it difficult to increase the amount of fibre in your diet, your pharmacist may recommend a fibre supplement.
Good to know / Important Tips
If you’re starting to eat more fibre, be sure to drink plenty of water, as fibre needs water to be effective. Keeping a glass of water handy can be a good reminder to drink more.
In addition to eating more fibre, remember to be active on a regular basis. Physical activity stimulates the intestines to do their job.
If you still have regularity problems after trying these tips, ask your pharmacist for advice.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.