All Posts tagged fibre foods

Fibre foods are fabulous — part of my nutrition book in process

Non-Starch Polysaccharides–AKA Fibre Foods

flax fibre foods nutrition natural health Vancouver BCNon-starch polysaccharides is not an easy term to remember, or to market as part of a nutritious diet. More commonly termed dietary fibre, it includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins (though it gets complicated here with the terminology often expanding and changing).

If sugar is considered the “bad boy” in the carbohydrate family, then fibre is treated like the “golden child.” You probably know fibre as that thing that you know you should eat more of, but that doesn’t seem that appetizing. It’s generally not something that your taste buds will crave because it has no taste. Plus, though you have to make the effort to eat it, it leaves your body mostly undigested.

So, what’s the point?

Fibre foods help support digestive health, regulate blood sugar fluctuations, lower elevated cholesterol, help eliminate toxic waste products from the body, prevent colon cancer, and more.

Dietary fibres are most commonly divided into soluble and insoluble fibres. It’s not a perfect division (what in the world is?), but here are some of the benefits and types of food that provide each of these categories. Most whole plant foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibres.

Soluble Fibre Foods:

Soluble fibre attracts water, so it turns to a gel when it enters your body, thus slowing your digestive process. Note that if you are supplementing with psyllium husk or any other soluble fibre product, make sure to consume it with a lot of water. Because it creates a gel, insufficient water will make it act more like a plug, causing constipation—uh oh!

  • Though fibre is commonly thought of as something that “makes you go,” because it slows the speed of digestion, it also helps manage diarrhea and loose stools.
  • It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • It lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
  • It reduces the risk of getting intestinal ulcers.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more soluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Oats/oat bran
  • Psyllium husk
  • Other grains like barley, bran, brown rice, and rye
  • Black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soy beans, and other beans
  • Tofu, edamame
  • Vegetables like asparagus, beets, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, green beans, peas, sweet potato, turnip
  • Fruits like apples, apricots, avocado, figs, pears, plums, prunes
  • Almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds

Insoluble Fibre Foods:

It makes sense, based off its name, that insoluble fibre does not bind itself to water and turn to gel, like the soluble fibre, but it does absorb water while moving through the digestive system, making for an easier passage. Insoluble fibre is found in many whole foods, but the highest amounts are often found in the parts of the foods that are tougher to chew, like cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and the skin of apples, cucumbers, and grapes.

  • It promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Because it absorbs water, it adds bulk to the stool to relieve constipation.
  • Speeding intestinal transit time helps it move toxic waste through the colon more quickly.
  • It assists in blood sugar regulation.
  • By optimizing intestinal pH, it helps prevent colon cancer.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more insoluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Wheat bran
  • Most whole grains, including barley, millet, rye
  • Most legumes, including kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, and pinto beans
  • Most vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, kale, okra, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, and turnip
  • Dried fruits, including dates and prunes
  • Berries, peels of apples, apricots, pears, and plums
  • Almonds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts

Next month I’ll include my TCM nutrition book section on how to store your oils.

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