Dietary fibre is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains and comes in three forms – soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. This means that not all fibre behaves the same and will subsequently have different health benefits. Here we breakdown the types of fibre, their benefits and how to include them in your diet.
So What Is Fibre?
Fibre is the indigestible part of plant foods and is a type of carbohydrate that helps to keep our digestive system healthy, acting as natural prebiotic. It passes through the small intestine undigested and arrives in the large intestine where it ferments with friendly bacteria, having a probiotic effect on our gut bacteria.
This type of fibre attracts water to form a thick gel in your intestines, slowing digestion and helping you to feel fuller for longer. It can also help stabilise blood glucose levels, preventing those unwanted insulin spikes that lead to – you guessed it – fat storage!
Staying true to its name, insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water but instead absorbs it, creating ‘mass’ that helps both soften stools and promotes regular bowel movements (yep, we went there). This type of fibre is primarily found in whole grains, seeds, the peel of fruit and vegetables, and some legumes.
Again staying true to its name, this type of fibre literally resists digestion, making its way to the large intestine where it ferments with friendly bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs, including butyrate, help to fight inflammation and strengthen the lining of the bowel. Unlike FODMAPs, resistant starch is fermented over time and does not result in the same degree of discomfort. However, if you are sensitive to FODMAPs, it would be wise to introduce these foods slowly and keep an eye on your symptoms to avoid any flare-ups.
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