Flavour of the Week

Make Fibre Your Friend!

flavour-of-the-week-logoWe talk a lot about fibre on No Baloney, but there is a lot more to fibre than just digestive health. A diet rich in fibre not only improves bowel health but may also reduce risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and some cancers. And it doesn’t have to taste like cardboard!

Did you know there are two types of dietary fibre? Dietary fibre is a group of plant substances that cannot be digested by our bodies and the two types of fibre – insoluble and soluble fibre – offer different health benefits. How can you boost your fibre intake to reap the rewards of ruffage?

Current fibre intakes in North America are far below what is recommended. The average North American consumes a measly 15 – 19 grams of fibre per day (1-2) compared to the 25 grams recommended for women,  38 grams for men suggested in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) (3). Is it any surprise when approximately half of Canadians consume less than the recommended minimum five servings of vegetables and fruit per day (4)?

There are two types of fibre – insoluble and soluble (5).

Insoluble fibre is what people often think when they hear the word fibre. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and speeds up transit through your gut – think bran muffins. Insoluble fibre is found predominantly in whole grains and veggies.

Soluble fibre attracts water in the gut, forming a gel that slooooooows down movement through the intestine. Some types of soluble fibre are referred to as “prebiotic” because they can be fermented by healthy gut bacteria. Soluble fibre is found in legumes, fruits and some cereals like oats and barley.

Function Benefits
Insoluble Fibre
  • Adds bulk to stool making it easier to pass
  • Maintains muscle tone in the colon
  • Increases intestinal transit time
  • Prevents constipation and diverticulosis
  • Removes waste from the intestine
  • Reduces risk of colon cancer
Soluble Fibre
  • Delays stomach emptying and slows down intestinal transit time
  • Binds bile acids (which are made from cholesterol)
  • Maintains muscle tone in the colon
  • Helps you feel full longer
  • Better blood sugar regulation
  • Lowers cholesterol

While to two types of fibre have different functions and benefits, a mix of both is best!

Increasing your fibre intake offers a range of benefits from improved sense of fullness and improved weight maintenance to reduced risk of digestive disorders and improved glycemic control (6-8). In a recent review of NHANES data, Grooms et al. (1) found that among those with the lowest fibre intake rates of metabolic syndrome, inflammation and obesity were significantly higher than those with the highest fibre intake.

Our Top 10 Food Sources of Fibre

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Source: Canadian Nutrient File, v. 2010.

No Baloney’s advice? The more whole, unprocessed foods you eat the better your chances of meeting current fibre recommendations. An average diet contains 3:1 insoluble fibre to soluble fibre. When making a food choice decision, don’t worry about choosing a specific type of fibre. Many foods such as oat, oat bran, fruits and vegetables are rich in BOTH insoluble and soluble fibre.


  1. Grooms KN, et al. Dietary fiber intake and cardiometabolic risks among US adults, NHANES 1999-2010. Am J Med 2013; [epub ahead of print].
  2. Health Canada, Canadian Community Heath Survey. Cycle 2.2, Nutrition. Nutrient intakes from Food. Provincial, Regional and National Summary Data Tables: Volume 1 – 3. Health Canada, Ottawa ON; 2004.
  3. Dietary Reference Intakes: Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC; 2005.
  4. Garriguet D. Overview of Canadians’ Eating Habits 2004: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey. Statistics Canada; 2006.
  5. Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients 2013; 5(4):1417-35.
  6. Clark MJ, Slavin JL. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr 2013; 32:200-11.
  7. Eswaran S, Muir J, Chey WD. Fiber and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Am J Gastroenterol 2013; 108:718-27.
  8. Silva FM, et al. Fiber intake and glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Rev 2013; [epub ahead of print].

One thought on “Make Fibre Your Friend!

  1. Pingback: “Juicy” Gossip | No Baloney

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