All You Need to Know: Fibre
The body is such a complicated thing and we are constantly bombarded with different theories, analogies and advice as to what we should and shouldn’t be eating, taking and doing. To make matters even more complicated, each and every person is unique and has different requirements to the next - there is most definitely no one rule that works for everyone. So where exactly do we start in working out what we should be eating, how to optimise our health and what is right for us? Listening to your body is probably a good start.
Which brings me on to the topic at hand: Fibre. We are told endlessly that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, optimise our life expectancy, lose weight etc etc we need to increase our fibre intake and eat more cruciferous vegetables (the really dark green ones), legumes (beans and peas) and whole grains (oats, wholewheat flour etc). As much as this is wonderful advice, and doing so will massively improve your health, particularly if you previously enjoyed culinary delights such as burgers, pasta and pizza, they also forget to mention the implications of increasing your fibre intake and the side affects you may experience.
To break it down for you, fibre is needed to keep the body ‘regular’ as it helps to move food through the digestive system. Insoluble fibre does so by acting like a sponge, absorbing water and along with it toxins and waste in the intestines as it moves through. Soluble fibre on the other hand creates a gel-like substance which helps prevent the body from absorbing harmful substances. Once all of these harmful toxins and substances have been collected, the body obviously has to deposit of them somehow. Just think of porridge (a great source of fibre) - when you mix it with liquid and heat it up, the oats absorb the water and expand and the final outcome is a sticky, gel-like substance.
So far fibre sounds like a great thing, and it is! So what are we on about with these ‘implications’? Basically, as fibre is composed of molecules that resist digestion, they pass through the digestive system without being broken down by enzymes like the rest of our food. Soluble fibre also ferments with the bacteria in our guts, both of which can lead to an increase in gas.
What people forget to mention is that if you increase your fibre intake too quickly, or consume only high-fibre foods for a long period of time - which if you’re following a healthy diet is more than likely, particularly if you’re vegetarian or vegan, then it can lead to a build up and issues such as bloating, intolerances and malabsorption. Ever wonder why a lot of health foodies and bloggers tend to suffer a lot with food intolerances and issues such as IBS - this is why! It’s a cruel, cruel world, yes.
So what should you take from this? Any positives? Yes, we promise it’s not all bad! There are so many easy ways to ensure that fibre is working with you not against you. Simply soaking foods such as oats, lentils and beans overnight before consumingwill which makes them easier to digest and will leave you feeling wonderful. The body is also quite wonderful in that by slowly increasing your fibre intake over time, the body will adapt to the changes, so although at first the disposal of the toxins may leave you feeling run down, in no time you will be practically radiating health! Taking natural enzymes such as grapefruit seed extract or papaya extract before meals will also help with the breakdown and digestion of fibre.
As we mentioned earlier though, everyone is different and the body is a complex but wonderful thing. By tuning in and listening to your body, you can monitor what works for you, what makes you feel great, and what doesn’t. If there’s one thing we can certainly guarantee though, it’s that fresh, healthy, home cooked food is the way forward, and will leave you practically glowing with health in comparison to any processed offerings.