Do we eat enough fibre?
Diets can be overwhelming, but a small change in our habits can make all the difference. In the spirit of the New Year, I would like to propose another month of the year focused on health. It would take 30 days so that for once, Canadians would eat enough dietary fibre.
In Canada, fibre requirements have been set at 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Most Canadians consume only half of these amounts in fibre.
There are so many reasons for us not to do it, from fast food marketing to agricultural subsidies, but there is one major factor contributing to its low consumption; the decrease in home-cooked meals and an increase in the number of meals eaten in restaurants. North Americans now spend more on food in restaurants than in grocery stores, but restaurant food tends to have less fibre than the food we otherwise eat at home.
Fibre deficiency in restaurant kitchens
The problem seems to be that restaurant meals usually lack two of the best sources of fibre, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. A revealing 2007 study, in which researchers surveyed 41 restaurant managers, showed that restaurants think that fruits and vegetables are too expensive to be part of the menu, and “61 percent said profits dictate menus. ” They were also against including healthier menu selections, saying it would be “the kiss of death”.
So, people like to eat out, and when they do, they prefer comfort food without fibre. But it’s a dangerous road to travel.
Low fibre diet and inflammation in the intestines
As Ed Yong has written, diets low in fibre make intestinal bacteria more homogeneous, perhaps even for generations. Mice fed on high fibre foods have less severe food allergies, potentially because intestinal bacteria break down fibre into short chain fatty acids, which support the immune system. A more recent study in mice revealed that a low fibre diet can trigger inflammation in the intestines. We still need more studies to understand exactly how fibre and microbiome interact in humans. But we know that hunter-gatherer communities in Tanzania and elsewhere, who do not eat Western diets, eat about 100 grams of fibre a day and have microbiomes far more diverse than westerners.
“We are beginning to realize that people who eat more dietary fibre are feeding their gut microbiome,” Stanford University microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg told NPR.
There are also a number of other studies detailing the many ways that fibre stimulates health.
This is a very confusing flow chart from a 2005 study showing how fibre leads to greater satiety, less insulin secretion and more short-chain fatty acids, which equates to one thing: lower body weight:
Obese people consistently report eating less fibre than those who are not. Even after controlling for other factors, fibre intake is inversely associated with body mass index. Eating more fibre helps overweight people lose weight and reduce body fat. It has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by lowering estrogen levels in the blood and promoting healthy aging.
A high fibre diet and longer life expectancy
“We found that those who had the highest intake of fibre or total fibre actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up,” Bamini Gopinath, from Australia’s Westmead Institute, told PsychCentral. “That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability.”
So, if you’re the kind of person who wants to start the year off right, in other words, you just want to be a little healthier without completely reorganizing your whole life, just try to eat more fibre. The best part of this health tip is that it does not involve eating something you don’t like. Fibre is found in almost all fruits, vegetables and whole grain. You can eat more apples and celery, of course, but there is also fibre in things like corn tortillas, beans, granular bread and some types of breakfast cereals. A chipotle burrito with brown rice and corn salsa will give you 22 grams of fibre, compared to just three grams in a Big Mac. (The burrito also has more than twice as many calories, so, it goes without saying that an alternative menu like this, has to be consumed in moderate quantities.)
Losing weight by eating fibre
But you must not stop eating everything you like: People will lose as much weight just by eating a lot of fibre as they would with complicated diets, even though they may eat a few more calories in the process.
So, just order peas as a side dish instead of a Mac with cheese. Just cut a banana on your Corn Flakes, which are surprisingly not fibrous in their own right. Or, if you think you’re not getting enough fibre in your diet, you can choose from our following products. In conclusion , we need to eat more fibre period.
…In conclusion, we need to eat more fibre, PERIOD.