Updated: Sep 11, 2018
What is Fibre?
Fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate. It comes mainly from plant cell walls and passes undigested through the small intestine into the bowel. Fibre helps to bulk out our food and gives the intestinal muscles something to push against, so aiding elimination of waste and guarding against constipation. There are two kinds of fibre - insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre is mainly cellulose ( a starch that makes up the cell walls of plants). So it is no surprise that it is found in all plants! It increases stool bulk as it can't be broken down and absorbed in your digestive system and speeds the passage of food through the intestines. It can help to prevent bowel cancer, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome.
Some sources of insoluble fibre are wheat (wholegrain bread etc.), corn, brown rice, vegetables and pulses.
Soluble fibre is also found in some plants. It can help reduce harmful cholesterol levels in the blood.
Some sources of soluble are citrus fruits, apples, oats, barley, rye
Pulses are the edible seed that grows in a pod. They include all beans, peas and lentils. COMA (Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy) suggest that we have 18g of fibre in our diet per day. It is better to get your fibre from natural, high fibre foods than from bran supplements as raw bran can irritate the gut wall and could prevent the absorption of some minerals such as calcium and iron.
Remember the 5 a day message
It is important to increase the amount of fluids you drink as you increase your fibre intake because they work together in the gut.