It’s not officially a ‘nutrient’ and not many nutritionists will talk about it. But the one nutrient that most modern populations are deficient in, and that can decidedly improve your overall health and prevent food related chronic diseases is FIBRE. (Americans spell it as fiber.)
Let’s have a look at what exactly is fibre, how much do we need and which food has it?
What is Fibre?
Fibre is what makes plants stand up. Just like our bones and skeleton keeps us standing and gives us form, fibre is what makes plants have form and structure.
Natural fibre from plants is helpful in prevention and reversal of common lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, elevated cholesterol, constipation. It helps in the prevention of stroke and even cancers of the colon and breast, among other things.
Types of Fibre
Fibre simply passes through the body giving it many beneficial effects. It helps clean up toxic residues including excess cholesterol and estrogen. Fibre is never actually digested by our body therefore it is not counted under ‘nutrients’. Fibre comes in two forms soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre turns to gel in the stomach and slows digestion, which helps lower blood glucose and prevent diabetes. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, remains the same all the way to the colon, giving bulk to stools and making them softer so it can go through the intestines more easily.
Everyone over 40 can attest to the satisfaction of a bulky stool that passes easily… Ahhhhhh! 🙂
How much fibre do we need?
Although recommendations vary but the popular literature pegs it at about 30-40g of fibre daily depending on which report you are reading. The average diet meets less than half that minimal requirements in a day. There is research evidence that suggests that even these levels are being set to make it “look” achievable and may to too low to prevent common lifestyle diseases.
One study quoted by Dr. Michael Greger in his bestselling book, How Not to Die, pegs the minimum daily requirement at 25g of soluble fibre and 47g of insoluble fibre bringing it to a whopping 72g of fibre a day! He estimates that in the wild, ancient people were probably eating more than 100g of fibre a day. The body has evolved to run optimally on high levels of fibre.
I know for a fact that no diet on the planet can match this level except the “whole plant based diet”. This is the diet I follow and recommend and is being used by countless doctors, nutritionists, health coaches and dietitians all over the world to combat lifestyle diseases.
Which food has fibre?
Only plants have fibre. Animal food like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products do not have any fibre. And refined plant food like white flour, white rice, oil and sugar is stripped off most of the fibre.
Some of the best sources of soluble fibre are beans, lentils oats, nuts and berries. Many fruits and vegetables too have plenty of fibre like broccoli, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips, pears, carrots, peaches oranges, guavas and mangoes.
Insoluble fibre is abundant in whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice and unpolished millets and also in the skins of some of the fruit and vegetables. This is why it is important to not peel cucumbers, apples and pumpkins etc.
Good for weight loss
The best news for weight watchers is that eating a diet high in fibre can help with natural weight loss. Fibre gives the body a feeling of satiation for much longer than refined food. And if it is cooked without oil, will be low in calories. I myself have reduced over 25 kgs of weight by eating this way and the best part is that I have kept it off!