Dietary fibre can keep you full, help you to lose weight, and improve your overall health. By using these tips to add more to your diet, you can look and feel your best.
What is fibre?
Many of us associate fibre with digestive health and bowel function, but eating foods high in dietary fibre can do more than keep you regular. It can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improve the health of your skin, and help you lose weight. It may even help prevent colon cancer.
Fibre, also known as roughage, is the part of plant-based foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans) that the body can’t break down. It passes through the body undigested, keeping your digestive system clean and healthy, easing bowel movements, and flushing cholesterol and harmful carcinogens out of the body.
Fibre comes in two varieties: insoluble and soluble.
In general, the more natural and unprocessed the food, the higher it is in fibre. There is no fibre in meat, dairy, or sugar. Refined or “white” foods, such as white bread, white rice, and pastries, have had all or most of their fibre removed.
The health benefits of fibre
Many different studies have highlighted how eating a diet high in fibre can boost your immune system and overall health and improve how you look and feel.
Some of the benefits include:
Digestive health; dietary fibre normalises bowel movements by bulking up stools and making them easier to pass. It can help relieve and prevent both constipation and diarrhea.
Reduce your risk for diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestine), hemorrhoids, gallstones, kidney stones, and provide some relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some studies have also indicated that a high-fibre diet may help to lower gastric acid and reduce your risk for gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and ulcers.
A diet high in fibre, particularly insoluble fibre from cereals, can lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, eating soluble fibre can slow the absorption of sugar and improve your blood sugar levels.
Eating a high-fibre diet can help prevent colorectal cancer, although the evidence is not yet conclusive. Diets rich in high-fibre foods can lower the risk for other common digestive system cancers, including stomach, mouth, and pharynx.
When yeast and fungus excreted through the skin, it can trigger outbreaks of acne. Eating fibre, especially psyllium husk (a type of plant seed), can flush toxins out of your body, improving the health and appearance of your skin.
It can improve cholesterol levels by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. It can also reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors linked to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Fibre can also help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and shed excess weight around the abdomen.
Fibre and weight loss
Fibre adds bulk to your diet, a key factor in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. It can help you feel full sooner, as fibre stays in the stomach longer than other foods, helping you to eat less. High-fibre foods such as fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, so by adding fibre to your diet, it’s easier to cut calories.
Other ways that high fibre intake can aid weight loss:
It can help maintain your body’s fat-burning capacity and avoid insulin spikes, leaving you feeling drained and craving unhealthy foods. Eating plenty of fibre can move fat through your digestive system at a faster rate so that it absorbs less. When you fill up on high-fibre foods such as fruit, you’ll also have more energy.
How Much Fibre Do You Need?
Minimum recommended daily intake (in grams)
Age Male Female
9-13 31 26
14-18 38 26
19-30 38 25
31-50 38 25
51-70 30 21
Over 70 30 21