With all the media talk on the best diets for weight control, recommendations on fibre have slipped away from mainstream attention. Yet we need to be talking about fibre more than ever. Why?
In our shift away from demonising fat as the culprit of our weight and health woes, the common shift is now to point the finger of blame squarely at carbs. Unfortunately this has meant the good are being thrown out with the bad, and amongst those are many of the best fibre-rich foods available to us such as wholegrains, legumes, fruit and even some vegetables.
There’s no doubt that a low carb diet is a valid approach for some, but remember it’s not the only approach. For those of you following a low carb diet, using a psyllium supplement (Metamucil is a great source of 100% natural psyllium fibre) is an easy way to add fibre, especially soluble fibre, into your diet without additional carbs or kilojoules. Regardless of the dietary approach you decide is best for you, you need to pay attention to fibre. And here’s why…
Fibre & Regularity
Fibre is most famous for its role in keeping you regular and the benefits of that are not to be sneered at. Being blocked up is a common cause of bloating, feeling lethargic and uncomfortable. Fibre absorbs water in your gut, swelling the gut contents and it is this pressure on the gut walls that stimulates contraction and movement of the contents along your gut. For this reason it is essential that you keep your water intake up to match your fibre. Soluble fibres such as psyllium are particularly good in this regard. But keeping your gut moving is about more than just feeling comfortable.
Fibre & Detoxing
Despite the popularity of detox diets, your body is in fact detoxing all of the time. Many of the toxins our bodies face everyday come in through the foods and drinks we consume – some added as food ingredients, other contaminants – but most are in fact present naturally in foods or are created through the processes of digestion and metabolism. Unsurprisingly your gut is a major route for detoxing and fibre such as psyllium play a starring role.
The gel formed in the gut from fibre and water absorbs many toxins and potential carcinogens, binding them and carrying them out of the body. Soluble fibre also feeds the good bacteria in the gut and the products of this fermentation activate cancer-killing enzymes, reduce inflammation and fuel the cells of the colon keeping them healthy and preventing the absorption of toxic compounds.
By making you feel fuller soluble fibres such as psyllium can help you to eat less. The fibre gel in your gut also slows digestion and the breakdown and absorption of carbs in your meal. That in turn reduces the rise in both glucose and insulin, helping you to manage your appetite and potentially stimulate more fat burning. Additionally psyllium is also effective at lowering both LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
All up it’s pretty easy to boost your fibre intake with psyllium. It’s gluten-free too making it pretty fantastic for all sorts of diets.
By Dr Joanna McMillan, nutritionist and dietitian.
Do you incorporate psyllium into your diet? Tell us in the comments below…