In our modern world, chronic diseases are common. Many of these diseases are caused by inflammation and metabolic dysfunction such as insulin resistance, which can be traced back to our dietary lifestyles.
Research shows that our lifestyles, including our sleep, physical activity, and diet, play a crucial role in developing non-communicable diseases.
These lifestyle factors also contribute to weight gain and obesity, which can lead to more than 50 medical conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, and heart disease.
During Nutrition Week, which is from October 9 until 15, we explore ways to incorporate more fibre into your diet for maximum health benefits.
Fibre can be found in everyday affordable foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Both types are important for our health.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to our stool, preventing constipation.
Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in our digestive system. It can help lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar.
Why eat fibre at all?
Eating enough fibre is associated with better overall metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity. It also has benefits for cardiovascular health, colon health, gut movement, and reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
Studies have even found that higher fibre intake is linked to lower mortality rates.
Easy ways to incorporate fibre in our everyday diet:
Swop refined grains for whole grains
Examples of refined grain products are white flour, corn grits, white bread, and white rice.
Whole grains include brown rice, quinoa oatmeal and wholegrain breads. Refined grains have the germ and bran removed. These grains have a finer texture and a longer food storage life.
This process takes out nearly all of the fibre and many other nutrients. Food with refined grains includes white rice and most white breads, pastries, cakes and crackers.
Snack on fruits and vegetables
Snacking on apples, berries, carrots, citrus fruits like oranges, and pineapple can increase your fibre intake. Their fibre content not only helps with digestion, but can satisfy your sugar cravings.
Guavas contain 3g of fibre and are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
Include legumes in your diet
Beans, lentils and chickpeas are excellent sources of fibre and protein.
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds are a source of soluble fibre. One quarter-cup serving of sunflower seeds has 3g of dietary fibre and 6g of protein!
One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds has 3.5g of fibre along with 2g of protein. Ground flaxseeds are easier to digest and absorb, so your body gets all the nutritional benefits from the seeds.
Keep the skin on fruits and vegetables
Apple peels and potato skins are packed with fibre, thereby boosting your fibre intake.
Drink plenty of water
Drink water throughout the day, more especially when you are increasing your fibre intake. Water helps fibre do its intended job and aids in digestion.