Fibre is the name given to a group of materials found in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables and cereal grains.
There are two types of fibre, namely soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is a type of fibre that dissolves in water or absorbs water whereas insoluble fibre is indigestible and passes through the gastrointestinal tract.
Some of the important functions of fibre are, it:
- lowers cholesterol levels
- improves blood sugar control in diabetes
- keeps you feeling fuller for longer
- prevents constipation
- reduces the risk for certain cancers – especially of the colon
- reduces chances of developing gallstones, hiatus hernias and varicose veins.
Practical hints on how to increase fibre in the diet
- All vegetables are a good source of fibre;
- Eat a variety of vegetables (approximately 1-2 cups or 3 portions) daily;
- Have a salad at mealtime as often as possible;
- Eat the skin or peels whenever possible.
- All fresh or dried fruit are good sources of fibre;
- Have a fruit as a snack instead of biscuits, chips or chocolate;
- Have a fresh fruit instead of fruit juice or canned fruit;
- Eat a fruit instead of dessert;
- Take fruit daily to work or to school.
♦ Dhal, lentils, dried beans, baked beans, etc, are high in fibre;
♦ Include in the diet at least once a week. It can replace meat, chicken or fish as a protein dish.
Bread and Cereals
Eat wholewheat or brown bread instead of white bread.
Use unrefined (rough) mealie instead of refined (fine) mealie meal.
Have oats or cereals with bran or fibre instead of refined or sugary cereals.
Digestive bran can be added to mealie meal (in the cooking process) to increase fibre.
Choose wholewheat scones or bran muffins as a treat instead of plain scones or cakes.
Fats and Oils
Oily and rich foods increase weight and body fat, worsen constipation and increase blood cholesterol levels;
- Choose low fat products e.g. low-fat dairy products;
- Remove all visible fat from meat and skin and fat from chicken before cooking;
- Choose lean cuts of meat;
- Avoid all fried foods;
- Use very little oil (1 tablespoon) in cooking;
- Avoid take aways which are usually high in fat and low in fibre.
An increase in fluids is needed as fibre absorbs a lot of water
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Tea, coffee and cooldrinks do not count as water.
Too little water often leads to problems with constipation.
Important Points to Remember
Eat regular meals at regular times;
Limit intake of sugar, sweets, chocolates, cakes and desserts;
Increase the fibre content of your diet gradually;
Make positive changes in your diet that you would continue with e.g. a salad or vegetable or fruit with each meal;
A high fibre diet is a healthy diet that should take place with other lifestyle changes e.g:
- Avoid alcohol, or have only in moderation
- Stop smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Decrease fats and oils in the diet
- Decrease the use of salt
- Increase intake of water
Foods High In Fibre
- Baked beans
- Broad beans
- Brussels spouts
- Chick peas
- Dried apples
- Dried apples
- Dried apricots
- Dried beans, cooked
- Dried currants
- Dried figs
- Dried fruit salad
- Dried pears
- Dried prunes
- Granadilla, raw (passion fruit)
- Haricot beans
- High fibre bran cereals
- Mixed vegetables
- Pumpernickel bread
- Split lentils
- Split peas
- Sugar beans
- Sweet potato
- White kidney beans
- Wholewheat bread
All other fresh and dried fruit and vegetables
All other wholegrain breads and cereal products
All other high fibre cereals
All other legumes, lentils, dhals and beans.
By Melissa Pyle, BSc. in Dietetics, Registered Dietician (SA)
We receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.
We’ll see you around – live your best Life Today!