Fibre refers to the edible plant component that is not digested by the enzymes in our stomach and intestines. These are basically carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion in the small intestine and are passed to the large intestine or colon instead. Fibre can be classified into two categories: soluble and insoluble fibre, each with its own benefits in the body. The soluble fibre, found in whole foods like oats, pulses, vegetables and fruits, readily absorbs water to form a gel-like material. This fibre helps to reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels in our system- yes who would have thought right.
Insoluble fibre, found in whole foods like wheat and bran, the skin of fruits, nuts and vegetables, remains undissolved in water. Owing to its easy movement through the digestive tract, it adds bulk to the stool and helps relieve symptoms of constipation. Apart from these common observations, that are to a great extent known by people, one of the most important features of fibre inclusion in our diets is its effect on weight loss, obesity & PCOD by regularisation of hormones like Insulin.
Howarth, Saltzman, and Roberts (2001) in a review study took note of the influence dietary fibre has on an individual. One of the common findings across researches was the increase in post-meal satiety and subsequently decreased hunger with an increase in fibre consumption under a fixed energy intake. Higher fibre intake in overweight/obese people leads to a greater suppression of energy intake and body weight loss that equates to 82% of mean energy intake versus 94% in lean people. Body weight loss (fat loss) was 2.4 kg in an overweight/obese individual vs 0.8 kg in a lean individual. Even in current review (Brownlee, Chater, Pearson, & Wilcox, 2017), there is evidence from observational studies which stated that increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been associated with lowering body weight. A study led by Zou, et al (2018) actually showed how consumption of food rich in dietary fibre can help in preventing obesity and metabolic disorders by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria. Consumption of processed food lacking fibre destroys gut macro bacterium and thus increases chronic inflammation and promotes other metabolic diseases like IBS, Heart Disease, Poor Liver Function & PCOD to name a few.
A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine (Ma, et al., 2015) suggested that our dietary fibre intake should be 30 grams per day which will not only help us lose weight in the form of fat, but also lower BP and improve Insulin sensitivity. Moreover, simply increasing fibre intake can be a good alternative for people who find it difficult to follow through on more complicated diet regimens.
If you recall my blog on the protein myth, you will remember how I spoke about the universal question being- ‘where do you get your protein from?’. Well now, let me introduce you to the real question that must be asked.
Where do you get your fibre from?
Fibre is the real macro-nutrient that we are missing in our diet today. If you don’t have the answer to this, you can always reach out to me and I would be happy to give you a few pointers on how to get started. I assure you, if you provide your body the right foods, you will be able to work more efficiently towards achieving your health goals. Stop counting calories and your protein intake, focus on the real thing- fibre!
If you still have queries on this subject, I would be glad to help you out on the same. Just drop it on my Whatsapp and i'll get back to you.
Howarth, N. C., Saltzman, E., & Roberts, S. B. (2001). Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutrition reviews, 59(5), 129-139.
Brownlee, I. A., Chater, P. I., Pearson, J. P., & Wilcox, M. D. (2017). Dietary fibre and weight loss: Where are we now?. Food Hydrocolloids, 68, 186-191.
Zou, J., Chassaing, B., Singh, V., Pellizzon, M., Ricci, M., Fythe, M. D., . . . Gewirtz, A. T. (2018). Fiber-Mediated Nourishment of Gut Microbiota Protects against Diet-Induced Obesity by Restoring IL-22-Mediated Colonic Health. Cell Host & Microbe, 23(1), DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.11.003.
Ma, Y., Olendzki, B. C., Wang, J., Persuitte, G. M., Li, W., Fang, H., . . . Pagoto, S. (2015). Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 248-257.