Eating enough fibre may be difficult, as evidenced by the statistic from the Harvard School of Public Health that the average American adult consumes about 15g of fibre a day, substantially less than the recommended intake. Fibre offers many health benefits, from weight management to improvements in your cholesterol levels.
Why you need fibre
Found only in plants, eating fibre fulfills part of your daily carbohydrate requirement. Although fibre is indigestible, your body handles the fibre differently, depending on the type of fibre. Insoluble fibre bulks the stool in your body, making the stool easier to pass, while soluble fibre may help reduce your cholesterol levels. Both types of fibre are important to your health. When you consume breads, beans, vegetables, seeds, oats and fruits, you are eating foods that will help you meet your minimum daily fibre requirement.
Adults and children
Adults and children over the age of 1 need fibre. Children 1 to 3 years old need 19g of fibre a day, while 4 to 8-year-olds needs 25g. Young boys under 14 need 31g, while a young girl the same age needs 26g. Between the ages of 14 and 50, boys and men require 38g of fibre. Girls between 14 and 18 years old need 26g, and women between 19 and 50 need 25g. After the age of 50, men require 30g, and women need 21g, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Benefits of fibre consumption
Eating an adequate amount of fibre each day may help you lower your levels of LDL cholesterol levels. If you eat just 5 to 10g more fibre a day, you may see a reduction of up to 5 per cent in your unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, according to the U.S. Department of Health. Additionally, you may reduce your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating enough fibre aids with your digestive processes, making bowel elimination easier and more regular.
Meeting your requirements
Although you can find fibre supplements easily, consume your fibre mainly from natural, wholesome foods. Look for cereals that have a minimum of 3g of fibre per day, such as a bran cereal with raisins, 100 per cent bran cereal or shredded wheat cereals. Add fibrous vegetables and fruits to your dietary intake. One raw, uncooked apple has about 3g of fibre, artichokes have 10g, and 1 cup of raw, unsweetened blackberries has over 7g of fibre. Rye and wheat breads have higher fibre content than white breads or rolls.
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- Harvard School of Public Health: Fibre: start roughing it
- National Institutes of Health: Soluble vs. insoluble fibre
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with TLC
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Release 20: fibre
- American Dietetic Association: Health implications of dietary fibre