Although it has very little caloric value, fibre is still essential to your diet and offers a wide range of health benefits. The recommended daily allowance of fibre is 20-35 grams per day between soluble and insoluble varieties (although the average daily fibre intake is closer to 15 grams). While all athletes, recreational and competitive, need to make sure of a regular supply of fibre in their diets, athletes may need to decrease fibre pre-competition to prevent intestinal problems.
Soluble fibres, which have the added bonus of reducing blood cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels, are found in lentils, beans, nuts and some vegetables and fruit. This fibre forms a gel by attracting water, which slows down digestion. In addition it helps with over eating and weight loss.
- Weight loss aid - an apple and a biscuit both have 60 calories. However an apple which has high fibre content and water compared to the sugar and fat of the biscuit. The apple is more filling and satisfying unlike the single biscuit. Many of us can eat a few biscuit in a single serving but the same cannot be said for an apple.
On the other hand insoluble fibres pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively quickly and add bulk to our diet. It is believed that insoluble fibres help to decrease your risk of colon cancer by removing toxins from the colon and controlling/balancing the acidity levels in the intestine. Insoluble finders can be found in whole wheat and grains, seeds, the outer skins of fruits and vegetables.
- Digestive health- our intestines are made of smooth muscle, these muscle require, like any other muscle to be exercised. Food is pushed through the intestines in an action called peristalsis. Fibres add bulk to our food, helping the food pass with less pressure. Lack of fibre can cause diverticulitis. This is a painful and serious medical condition where bacteria filled bulges develops on the walls of the intestine.
To get your daily fix of fibre eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, and other natural foods.
Foods high in fibre
· Cooked black beans
· Kidney beans
· Bran cereal
· Apples and pears with skin
· Red lentils
Foods low in fibre
· White bread
· White rice
· White pasta· Refined meals
Source from the SIRC Collection:
Dale, P. The F Word (2011). Ultra-FIT.