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Dietary Fibre promotes regularity, helps control caloric intake and helps to promote weight loss. Fibre is found only in plant-related foods, not in animal products. There are two kinds of fibre and both can be found in fruits, vegetables and grains.
Diets high in soluble fibre have been linked with lowering blood lipids and may be protective against some types of heart disease, in the context of an overall healthy lifestyle. Soluble fibre may play a role in delaying gastric emptying which has a positive effect on steadying blood sugar levels, important to people with diabetes.
Soluble Fibre forms a gel when combined with liquids. It is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and grains such as oats and barley. Though our body can't absorb soluble fibre, it slows down the rate at which we absorb sugar, making it helpful for people with diabetes. It also helps control weight and regulate our appetite, since foods high in soluble fibre keep us feeling full longer.
Insoluble dietary fibre regulates the digestive system naturally. Diets high in complex carbohydrates and insoluble fibre may help protect against diseases of the colon including chronic constipation, diverticulitis and even colon cancer.
Also known as roughage, insoluble fibre is found in whole-grain cereals, pasta, bread and in the skins and seeds of some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fibre is the kind that keeps us regular. It works by absorbing water and speeding the passage of waste through our intestines. This prevents constipation and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Dietary fibre is important for maintaining good health. Canadian health care professionals recommend we eat a wide variety of foods. A healthy diet is high in fibre, high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Canadian dietitians recommend we eat 25 to 35 grams of fibre daily. On average, Canadians eat about 15 grams of dietary fibre daily. A food is a "source" of dietary fibre if it provides at least 2 grams per serving. A "high source" of fibre provides at least 4 grams per serving and a "very high source" if it provides at least 6 grams per serving.
Grains are the main source of insoluble dietary fibre. Fruit, vegetables and legumes are the main sources of soluble fibre. To improve the fibre content of your diet, eat more servings of grain products (5 to 12 servings per day) and vegetables and fruit (5 to 10 servings per day). Canada's Food Guide recommends building your meals and snacks around these fibre and carbohydrate rich foods, using meat or poultry as an "accompaniment" to promote health & well-being.
Tip: When you start a higher fibre diet, increase your water intake and gradually include more high fibre foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruit and nuts.