Fibre keeps our bodies functioning well in various ways, so it is important to include high-fibre foods in your diet. It helps to manage body weight, blood sugar and pressure levels, and cholesterol levels in our bodies.
What is fibre?
It is a micronutrient that is contained in foods that are in the category of carbohydrates. According to registered dietitian Tirsa Bezuidenhout from the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, fibre is found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and in whole grains.
There are three different types of fibre namely: soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.
|Substances with gelatinous texture, found on the inside of fruits, vegs, beans & legumes.||Found often in the peel of most fruits and vegetables as well as in whole grain products, seeds & nuts.||It’s often found in cooked and cooled down rice, potatoes. It’s also found in not-so-ripe bananas.|
There are many benefits of consuming foods with a high fibre content. People whose diet contains little to no fibre might be prone to certain conditions, including piles, also known as haemorrhoids.
“In general, we know that people who don’t consume enough foods that are high in fibre are more likely to suffer from diseases. Like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis (a condition caused by the build-up of fats on the artery walls), high blood pressure, hyperlipidaemia (a condition where there are high levels of fat particles/lipids in the blood) and others, however this is not directly linked to fibre,” Bezuidenhout says.
Advantages of high-fibre foods
According to Bezuidenhout the advantages of consuming fibre-rich foods and the importance of fibre in our health is very complex. She says fibre plays a very crucial role in controlling and managing our systems.
“Fibre slows down the rate of digestion, and this makes you feel full for longer. With this feeling, chances are that you are not going to overeat because you do not feel hungry,” she says.
Controls sugar levels
“Fibre controls your blood sugar levels, partly because it slows down the rate of digestion, and because it is not as high in carbohydrates,” Bezuidenhout adds.
Because fibre is indigestible, Bezuidenhout says when the intestines attempt to break it down for digestion, it produces fuel for the intestinal bacteria which acts as the first layer of immunity. So, the functioning of your immune system is made stronger.
Reflecting on how South Africans view and understand the importance of eating high fibre content foods, Bezuidenhout believes that there is a very limited understanding of the importance of eating these foods.
“People generally know that fibre is important, but common among many people is that fibre is important only for digestive health benefits. So many people do not understand or know the role fibre plays in the (indirect) prevention of chronic illnesses like diabetes and others,” Bezuidenhout concludes.
She reiterates the importance of a balanced diet and the consumption of high-fibre containing foods and says “most basic fibre foods are not so expensive.” She adds that people can even plant some of these in their backyards and on balconies.
Bezuidenhout suggests adding these high-fibre foods to your meals:
- Split peas
Looking for a high-fibre dinner recipe to try this weekend?
Mogau Seshoene, popularly known as The Lazy Makoti, shares her recipe for a delicious chickpea and bean salad. Seshoene’s cookbook called The Lazy Makoti’s Guide To The Kitchen is filled with good, comforting and easy-to-make recipes.
The Lazy Makoti's Chickpea and Bean salad
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 cup cous cous, cooked
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red pepper, diced
- 1 small yellow pepper, diced
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- 10ml honey
- 5ml Dijon mustard
- 5ml chopped garlic
- 30ml lemon juice
- 60ml olive oil