Function of Fibre

 Fibre is a form of carbohydrate found in plants. It plays a major role in softening and bulking the stool, promoting regular elimination of waste.  Fibre feeds and balances the micro biome in our gastrointestinal tract.  A diet high in fibre leads to better blood sugar regular, sustained energy and wellbeing.

Good Fibrations

Okay, Forty Three Eighty Fitness fans, this week’s focus in on fibre. Now I don’t really focus on carbohydrates per se, as you noticed in the 6 Daily Diet Tips you all have now. Most people do better on setting their eyes on good fibre. Why the Beach Boys’ song Good Vibrations  comes to mind just now, makes me laugh. What if we had a song called  Good Fibrations?  What would we sing about then? Yes, fibre can make you sing, but not always the way you’d like. So, if you are used to take out food and a lot of white carbs (sugar, bread, crackers, chips etc.,) don’t go wild on adding the fibre all at once. Increase a little day by day. Otherwise, if you are not rushing out  your fitness class before you are done, your friends may be wishing you did! Build your fibre intake up slowly so the micro biome has time to adjust. This will minimize gas and bloating. Read on to learn why fibre is so fabulous.

Benefits of Fibre

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  • Softens the stool
  • Bulks the stool
  • Traps and prevent re-circulation and promote removal cholesterol from the body
  • Helps regulate blood sugar as they slow the release of sugars (carbohydrates) into the blood stream
  • Feeds the microflora in your gastrointestinal tract
  • Balances the variety of microflora in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Help with weight management

How much?

While most North Americans get less than 5g of fibre a day, the actual recommended amount is up t0 35 g per day. Increase slowly so your micro biome can adjust. Good fibres promote good bacteria, so a slow increase will naturally help promote a healthy gut flora.

GOAL= 35g per day

 

2 Types of Carbohydrates

At a high level, carbohydrates can be separated into two basic groups based how easily and quickly they are digested. A motto I use in clinic with my patients is:

Slow carbs, not no carbs.”

  1. Simple carbohydrates: starch, simple sugars, and fructans. Simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and absorbed in the small intestine.
  2. Complex carbohydrates: cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, pectin and beta-glucans. Complex carbohydrates are resistant to digestion in the small intestine and once moved further down into the digestive tract into the large intestine will be fermentation by the bacteria located there.

7 Types of Fibre

  • hemicellulose
  • cellulose
  • lignins
  • oligosaccharides
  • pectins
  • gums
  • glucans

Where do you find these fibres?

Hemicellulose -An insoluble fibre found in whole grains. Increases bowel regularity and excretion of cholesterol.Includes:  arabinoxylan, glucans, galantines, xylans, mannans, and pontosans.

Cellulose: an insoluble fibre found in fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Feeds the micro biome (gut flora) and byproduct is short chain fatty acids.

Lignins- an insoluble fibre found in root vegetables and berry seeds like flax and sesame. Helps feed and balance the natural micro biome.

Pectin is a soluble fibre found in apples, citrus fruits, legumes and nuts. Byproducts include butyrate and other short chain fatty acids. Helps balance the micro biome. Helps heal the gut and may have an effect on cholesterol.

Gums are thickening agents like xanthan, guar, Arabic, acacia, agar-agar, glucomannan and coboxymethyl cellulose. It creates short chain fatty acids in the gastrointestinal tract and promotes a healthy micro biome.

Glucans – Soluble fibre found in oats, barley and rye. Produces short chain fatty acids, stimulates healthy micro biome, reduces LDL cholesterol. Also soluble fibre found in mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, chug, maitake, and cremini. Byproducts include butyrate and other short chain fatty acids. Helps balance the micro biome. Medicinal mushrooms additionally help fight cancer, are antiviral, immuno-modulatory and help reduce inflammation.

Oligo(poly)saccharides: found in root vegetables, onions, garlic, asparagus, banana, chicory artichoke, lentils, beans and peas.  Studies show very helpful in helping you feel fuller longer and reduces intestinal inflammation. Note: FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) These short-chain carbohydrates are not well absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and can be easily fermented by gut bacteria producing pain, gas and bloating.

How can fibre help me loose weight?

Studies show that “increasing dietary fiber significantly reduces the risk of gaining weight and fat in women, independent of several potential confounders, including physical activity, and dietary fat intake.”

  1. As soluble fibre is fermented in the large intestine it produces hormones that tell our brain we are full.  (glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY))
  2. Dietary fibre has the ability to significantly decrease energy intake
  3. Dietary fibre takes energy to digest and therefore reduces the over all sum of caloric intake- digestive energy = energy provided.
References:
Lattimer JM, Haub MD. Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health. Nutrients. 2010;2(12):1266-1289. doi:10.3390/nu2121266
Tucker LA, Thomas KS. Increasing Total Fiber Intake reduces Risk of Weight and Fat Gains in Women. J Nutr. 2009 Mar;139(3):576-81. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.096685. Epub 2009 Jan 21.