12 Nov are you getting enough fibre?
Fibre is also a carbohydrate, it is composed of 10 or more glucose molecules, however, unlike most other digestible polysaccharides (starch being an obvious one), it has beta bonds joining its constituent glucose or other monosaccharide units, and these cannot be broken down in the body. Lactose also has a beta bond between glucose and galactose, but it can be cleaved by the enzyme lactase.
Fibre is important in the body, because it slows the passage of food in the small intestine, and allows the body to extract every molecule of energy from food in the small intestine, where glucose molecules cross the intestinal cell and enter the bloodstream to give us energy, but it speeds up transit in the large intestine, increasing your regularity, and reducing the amount of time that fermentation occurs.
The Dietary Guidelines suggest that women should eat 25 g of fibre per day and men should eat 30 g. It is not only the regularity which encourages them to suggest such a thing. Sufficient fibre has been linked to a reduction in cancers of the colon and GI (gastrointestinal) tract, so it would be good to know what foods are high in fibre, if you need to get more of these in your diet.
A morning green smoothie contributes 20.3 grams of fibre in one hit, and this is mainly from the psyllium, pineapple and chia seeds. Other high fibre contributors to your daily food are other wholegrains such as cereals and breads, and grains such as quinoa have a whopping 19g per 1/2 cup serve. Perhaps this is why the Dietary Guidelines recommend such large quantities of wholegrains and cereal foods – 5 serves per day.
It is important to increase your fibre intake gradually, since the bacteria in your large intestine, will react to the sudden increase in polysaccharides and make you feel uncomfortable, so be sure to increase your intake gently.
Most of the fibre that we get is in the cellulose component of plant foods, and this compound is composed of long strands of glucose. The beta bonds, makes it indigestible, but it still has important function in your digestion.
So how much fibre do you eat each day?. Are you getting enough?