Important for digestive health & overall wellness
It’s hailed a digestive health star, yet most people are unaware dietary fibre also takes centre stage for its ability to lower ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol levels, stabilise blood sugar levels, aid weight control and much more.
What is dietary fibre?
Found only in foods of plant origin (e.g. grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds), dietary fibre is the part of a plant that escapes digestion and absorption in the small intestine. The dietary fibre we eat makes its way into the large intestine (colon), where it is partially or completely broken down by an army of beneficial bacteria that reside in the colon1,2.
There are several types of dietary fibre:
Think ‘gelatinous’ fibre. These fibres, which attract water to form a thick gel, are totally broken down (fermented) by good bacteria in the colon3. During this process, substances are produced which help keep cells in the colon wall healthy. Good sources include cereal grains (especially oats, barley and rye), legumes (red kidney beans, chickpeas, baked beans), psyllium, some fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Think ‘bulking’ fibre. Best known for increasing the weight and volume of faeces and producing softer and bulkier stools, these fibres aid regular bowel movements3. This beneficial stool bulker is found in wholegrains, wheat bran, legumes, nuts and the skins of vegetables and fruits.
This is a starch that acts like dietary fibre in that it too escapes digestion in the small intestine. It moves along to be fermented by friendly resident bacteria in the colon, producing substances that help keep the colon healthy. Common sources include legumes like lentils and baked beans, some cereal grains like pearl barley and brown rice, ‘Hi-maize’® (found in some retail breads and cereals) and cooled cooked potato, rice and pasta3,4,5.
The total amount of dietary fibre we need to eat each day varies according to age, gender, life stage and disease risk6. Maximise the health benefits of fibre by eating a variety of high fibre grain-based foods and legumes each day, together with a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Ways to Increase Your Fibre Intake with Grain-Based Foods
• Wholegrain (wholemeal, mixed-grain) toast, crumpets or English Muffins
• High fibre or wholegrain breakfast cereal or natural muesli
• Porridge or bircher muesli made with rolled oats
• Sandwiches, rolls or wraps made with high fibre bread and with your favourite filling
• Salads made with grains like brown rice and cracked wheat (bulgur), or legumes like four bean mix, kidney beans and chickpeas
• Casserole or soup with added legumes
• Stir fry or curry with brown rice or soba noodles
• Wholemeal pasta topped with your favourite vegetable-based sauce
• Wholegrain bread used for crumbing fish or chicken
• High fibre or wholegrain snack bars
• Muffins, biscuits or pikelets made with wholemeal flour or rolled oats
• Wholegrain crispbreads/crackers
For more information on Dietary Fibre and its benefits, download our dietary fibre brochure (http://www.gograins.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/GG_Nutrition-brochure_-Fibre_low-res.pdf)
1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Food Standards Code, Standard 1.2.8 – Definition of Dietary Fibre.
2. American Association of Cereal Chemists. The Definition of Dietary Fiber (Report of the Dietary Fiber Definition Committee to the Board of Directors), Jan 2001.
3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V and Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009; 67(4):188–205.
4. Landon S. Resistant Starch Review, 2011 Update for Health Professionals. Hi-Maize and National Starch Food Innovation.
5. Marlett JA, Longacre MJ. Comparisons of in vitro and in vivo measures of resistant starch in selected grain products. Cereal Chem. 1996 ;73:63–68.
6. National Health and Medical Research Council (2006). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes.