Eating enough fibre can have many health benefits. However, just as with anything, moderation is key. By learning how much fibre you need, how much is in your food, and adjusting your diet accordingly, you’ll be able to strike a balance that’s ideal for your body (and your bowels).
Fibre is basically composed of plant-based food matter (i.e., fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes) that can’t be broken down by your digestive system. Whole foods contain both soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water) fibre. Although the recommendations below don’t distinguish between these two types of fiber, they are different and have distinct functions — soluble fibre helps to reduce cholesterol and glucose levels, and insoluble fibre helps with constipation by increasing the bulk of your stools.
Overall, nutritionists believe that fibre leads to following health benefits:
- Keeping you regular. Fibre decreases the risk of constipation by bulking up and softening your stool.
- Maintaining your bowel health. Fibre intake has been shown to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in some cases.
- Lowering cholesterol and blood glucose levels. By reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol and blood glucose levels, soluble fibre also leads to a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and type II diabetes.
- Controlling your appetite/weight. Foods that contain fibre are typically low in fat, energy-dense, take more time to chew, keep you full for longer, and block some of the digestion of fats and proteins.
- Preventing cancer. Fibre consumption may lower the risk for colorectal cancer, but the evidence is not yet conclusive.
Make a habit out of reading the nutrition facts on food labels. This will help you track your fibre intake. Generally, women need less fibre than men, and those aged 50 years or older need less than younger individuals.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, on an average, an average Indian consumes only 14 grams of fibre every day while the recommended daily allowance is 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men. The intake of 40 g/ 2000 kcal may be rationalized in different groups based on recommended energy intake.
Increasing fibre intake in your diet is fairly easy. However, it is important to note that as you increase your fibre intake, you also need to keep your body well hydrated, as the fibre tends of pull water into the intestines.
Some of the most common fibre rich Indian foods include:
- Different types of Dal and Legumes
- Green vegetables like Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Zucchini, Artichokes, Avocado, Beans, Carrot, Eggplant, Greens like collards, Kale, Potato with skin, Peppers, Pumpkin etc.
- Fruits with skin include Grapes, Apples, Guava, Oranges and pears
- Green Peas
- Beans such as Chickpeas and Rajma