Don’t flush this newsletter yet, we are just getting started on a very important discussion that can help you boost your health, improve vitality, and add to your “regular” health maintenance program.
What is fibre?
Fibre is the indigestible parts of plant or grain material that moves through our system as a kind or organic “pipe cleaner”. As fibre moves through the system it takes away toxins, waste matter, and can help to protect against dis-harmony and dis-ease in the digestive and elimination systems.
What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre?
Soluble fibre is found in fruit, vegetables and legumes, providing some nutrition and some bulk. Insoluble fibre is found in grain products. Both kinds of fibre are essential for good health, so it is important to get a wide variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes in your diet every week.
What’s so good about fibre? I’m glad you asked.
• Fibre prevents diseases of the colon like diverticulitis and colon cancer.
Lowers blood lipid levels.
Prevents some types of heart disease.
Lowers the GI (glycemic index) of many foods and may assist in stabilizing blood sugar.
Most high fibre foods suffer less processing, contain less fat, less transfatty acids, and contain more nutrients and phytochemicals essential for good health.
A good fibre intake can reduce abdominal bloating and release toxins and wastes from the intestinal tract that promote bloating, gas, difficulty digesting, and irregularity.
So, what to do to get more fibre in your diet?
Enjoy an array of:
• Fresh salads mixed with of dark leafy greens, and topped with higher fibre vegetables like broccoli, snow peas, and carrots.
Whole grains such as whole brown rice, spelt bread, bran muffins and oatmeal. Remember to avoid the ‘instant’ varieties, as they contain much less fibre, as well as much fewer nutrients.
Legumes such as chick peas, lentils and kidney beans. Use them to top salads and soups, or enjoy in the form of hummus or dahl.
Fresh fruits like apples, pears, and peaches eaten with the peels.
Cut your grapefruit like an orange rather than slicing and scooping, you will get more grapefruit, and more fibre.
Add a sprinkle of nuts to your soups and salads for a protein and fibre boost.
Eat your potatoes with the skins on, they retain more nutrients and the skins contain the majority of fibre.
Better yet, instead of regular potatoes, try roasting or mashing turnips, sweet potatoes and parsnips instead.
Psyllium husk is the best fibre supplement that I have found to date. It is the hull of the psyllium plant, and contains no nutritional qualities, it just acts to expand in your system and flush out toxins and debris, and promote regularity. It is not a laxative, and does not have any adverse side effects. However, it must be accompanied by a regular daily water intake of 8 glasses. If you take psyllium when dehydrated it can have a constipating effect. Psyllium can be found in most health food stores, and is great mixed in your morning shake, stirred into some juice or water or sprinkled on cereal.
For a more intensive fibre supplement, please see your natural health care practitioner for options that best suit you.
An ideal breakfast or snack food that contains 6.2 grams of fibre, is low in fat, and mighty satisfying! This recipe makes a huge batch of 24 muffins, which refrigerate or freeze well.
5 cups organic wheat or light spelt flour
5 ½ cups 100% Bran or All Bran cereal
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped raisins or dates
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups unflavoured soy milk & 2 cups yogurt)
1 cup applesauce or mashed banana
4 organic free range eggs
Line 24 muffin tins. Combine all dry ingredients in one large bowl. Mix together all wet ingredients and then stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Do not overmix. Spoon batter into muffin cups all the way to the top. Bake at 375 (190) for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Note: batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days and baked as needed.
First Published in the Mind Body Messenger Newsletter 2005