Reality check: The steady increase in the availability of junk foods has resulted in a significant downfall in terms of the quality of food that people are eating. Instant and junk foods are calorie-dense, hyper-palatable mixtures of fat and carbohydrates, containing very little or no protein or fibre in them. The lack of fibre, especially, is the reason why these foods are not filling at all, making you overeat them easily every time.
In actuality, a lot of people don't really bother about consuming the recommended daily levels of fibre. Yet to another extreme, it's also possible to consume too much fibre, in general, or at once, leading to unpleasant side effects.
So how much fibre do you actually need? We'll get into that, but beforehand let's delve into a transparent discussion on what is fibre and what are the benefits that it brings along with it.
What Is Fibre?
Dietary fibre or "roughage" is that portion of food which your body is not capable of digesting or absorbing. Unlike fats, proteins and carbohydrates, which your body can break down in order to absorb, fibre is not digested by the body and, instead, is passed (more or less intact) through your stomach, small intestine and colon.
Fibre intake is crucial for your gut health and nutrient absorption. It is also capable of effectively decreasing your energy consumption because not all fibre has a calorie value. Even then it counts as a carbohydrate and works toward increasing satiety.
Benefits Of Fibre
1. Fills your stomach
2. Slows your digestion
3. Controls insulin
4. Healthier bowel movements
1. Fills Your Stomach
Ever wondered how you can go through a whole box of cookies and still continue with more but a bowl of salad fills you up? It's the higher amount of fibre in your salad that fills up your stomach, giving you a feeling of being fuller.
2. Slows Your Digestion
When you eat fibre-rich foods, it leads to secretion of enzymes in your stomach that slows down your digestion and absorption processes. You know how that helps? A slower rate of digestion keeps you fuller, which in return works toward stopping you from eating as much.
3. Controls Insulin
By slowing down the entry of nutrients, such as glucose, into the blood, meals high in fibre enhances insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.
4. Healthier Bowel Movements
A fibre-rich diet contributes to regular bowel movements, keeping constipation at bay. Also, regular fibre intake acts phenomenally when it comes to your colon and digestive health.
So How Much Fibre Should You Consume
Although for men and women between 18 to 50 years of age, daily fibre-intake recommendations are 35 grams and 25 grams respectively, we would say that the minimum fibre intake for healthy being would be 20 grams for females and 25 grams for males. Another general guideline that is followed tell you to get 14 grams of fibre for every 1,000 calories you consume in your diet.
On the contrary, you should also note that if you go overboard with a high-fibre diet plan, you're not far from the risks of stomach cramps, constipation and even nutritional deficiency. Eating too much fibre can also potentially give you a very bloated look if taken to the extreme.
Also, a sudden increase in dietary fibre intake can give birth to intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Do not forget to drink plenty of water, fibre works best when it absorbs water.
A Fibre-packed Meal Plan
This sample menu gives you 30 grams of fibre for a day:
1. Breakfast: Wholegrain cereal (5 grams of fibre) and milk.
2. Snack: 20 almonds (3 grams of fibre) and 1/4 cup of raisins (1.5 grams of fibre)
3. Lunch: Meat sandwich made with 2 slices of whole wheat bread, lettuce and tomato (5 grams of fibre), along with an orange (3.1 grams of fibre)
4. Snack: Yogurt with half a cup of blueberries (2 grams of fibre)
5. Dinner: Grilled fish with a salad of lettuce and shredded carrots (2 grams of fibre) and half a cup of lentils (7.5 grams of fibre)
6. Snack: 3 cups popped popcorn (3.5 grams of fibre)
Do not forget that fibre intake isn't something that is "the more the better", once you've met your daily requirement. Consuming significantly more fibre than what's recommended isn't something that will magically improve your health, rather could actually make it worse.
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