Food

4 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Fibre

The dietary superstar may allow you to eat more, lose weight and feel fuller — and even help your health. Here's how.

 

A simple way to amp up your slim-down: Increase your fibre intake. Taking in an additional 14 g daily may help you eat significantly less — and drop more than 4 pounds in about four months, shows a Tufts University review study. 

To get more, you don’t have to make drastic diet changes. Fibre is found in proven weight-loss-friendly foods that pack a lot of nutrition per calorie — fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains. Because fibre is an indigestible carb, it won’t add inches to your waistline; instead, it works its way through your body, picking up and whisking away some cholesterol and toxins. 

To reap potential weight-loss and other health benefits, women should get 25 g (and men, 38 g) of fibre a day. “Unfortunately, most people take in only about half the fibre they need — and my research shows that the average consumption has remained flat for more than a decade,” notes Dana E. King, MD, professor and chairman of the department of family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine, in Morgantown. Go for 100 percent with these easy ways to step up your fibre intake — while also boosting your health. 

Health Boost #1: Fibre decreases your diabetes risk
By slowing digestion, fibre helps prevent post-meal spikes in blood sugar — which may improve insulin sensitivity and lower diabetes risk, according to a review study in The Journal of Nutrition.

Increase gradually. If you’re not used to fibre, it can cause gas and bloating. So start by getting an additional 3 to 4 g a day (equivalent to an orange); drink an extra cup of H2O to help absorption and keep gut contents soft. Once your body has adjusted to the extra fibre — typically in about a week — add another few grams, and keep doing so until you reach the recommended amount. 

Health boost #2: Fibre cuts your cholesterol
While insoluble fibre (in foods such as whole wheat bread and broccoli) doesn’t dissolve in water, soluble fibre (in apples, peas and beans) does — and the gummy substance it forms in the gut makes it an especially potent LDL cholesterol reducer. This may help decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease: Each additional 7 g fibre daily (about the amount in ¾ cup cooked oatmeal with 1 cup sliced strawberries) could lower your risk of developing the disease by 9 percent, found a recent review study in BMJ.

Aim for whole foods. They’re the best way to elevate intake of both insoluble and soluble fibre, experts say. “Eating an assortment of foods ensures you get both types of fibre,” King says. Have five to nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and three to four servings of whole grains (such as brown rice and quinoa) — all Power Foods.

Health boost #3: Fibre cuts your cancer risk
By increasing bulk and speeding transit time in the GI tract, fibre sweeps up and excretes carcinogens — shortening the body’s exposure to them and possibly reducing the risk for colon cancer, some experts believe. While research findings are mixed, a major study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating more whole grains could be linked with a lower colon cancer risk.

Be supplement smart. Though fibre supplements are helpful when your diet falls short, they’re likely less beneficial than the fibre in whole foods — experts say nutrients in food may work with fibre to deliver a maximum benefit. If you do take a supplement, forgo the capsule form and instead mix a powdered product like Metamucil with water to drink before a meal. “Fibre drinks can make you feel full quickly because they don’t have to break down to release their fibre, whereas capsules do,” notes Nancy D. Turner, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and food science at Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in College Station. 

Health boost #4: Fibre builds bones 
Inulin (a fibre that’s tasteless or slightly sweet) is found in the herb chicory and is a common food additive. It may heighten calcium absorption when eaten with calcium-rich foods like low-fat yogurt and milk and kale.

Consider added-fibre foods. If you’re already reaching for a calcium-rich food like yogurt, consider an extra-fibre version, like Chobani Greek Yogurt Simply 100. Inulin is also added to foods you can pair with milk, such as Fibre One 80 Calories Honey Squares cereal. Plus, you can find it naturally in foods like garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus and bananas.