We all know that we should eat a good range of fruit and vegetables to be healthy, but did you know that we also need a good balance of bacteria in our gut?The Monash Department of Gastroenterology in Melbourne, Australia, is researching the impact of a ‘high fibre and high natural prebiotic diet’ for optimal health.According to the research team, the health benefits of eating a diet high in fibre can include the potential to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes.Fibre has also been shown to benefit blood cholesterol levels and aid in weight control. So what is dietary fibre, and how can you increase your daily intake of it?
Put simply, dietary fibre is found in the indigestible parts of plants and carbohydrates, and its main role is to keep the digestive system healthy.The researchers say that this is because dietary fibre plays a vital role in stimulating the selective growth of certain beneficial gut bacteria.
The Victorian State Government’s Better Health Channel has some simple suggestions for increasing your daily fibre intake:
· Eat wholemeal or multigrain breads, rather than white bread
· Switch to brown rice
· Add an extra vegetable to every evening meal
· As a snack, eat fruit or nuts, or wholegrain crackers
· Drinking lots of fluid is also important to avoid constipation
By increasing the fibre in your diet, the researchers from Monash University explain, this will establish a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which are needed for optimal health.Of particular importance they say are the ‘prebiotic’ fibres, which are fibre compounds that pass undigested through the stomach and small intestine. Once in the large intestine, they promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which in turn keep the gut healthy.
However, there are a range of different fibre types, all playing a slightly different role in keeping a healthy gut. For this reason, a wide variety of foods is important.
See our latest articles on PNG Foodie for some healthy, high fibre recipes.