Nutrition 104 – Fibre


Nutrients are compounds found in our food that are essential for life and health. They provide energy, build and repair tissue and regulate chemical processes in the body, such as our metabolism. They are classified into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients we need in larger amounts; whereas, micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts. There are six classes of nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, lipids, water, vitamins and minerals.

As discussed in Nutrition 101 – Macros, carbohydrates are our main source of energy and fibre. Carbs can be broken down into simple carbs or complex carbs. Complex carbs can then be further broken down into starch or dietary fibre. Dietary fibre will be the focus of this post.

Dietary fibre is classified as soluble or insoluble, though we cannot digest either form. Soluble fibre helps you feel full longer, feeds the bacteria in your gut, slows glucose absorption and helps trap and eliminate cholesterol. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stool to promote a quicker exit.

According to Health Canada, most Canadians are only getting about half the recommended amount of fibre per day. It states that women should be getting at least 25 grams per day and men should be getting at least 38 grams per day. High fiber foods include: citrus fruits, vegetables, whole grains, berries, beans and oats.

High fibre diets can help reduce your risks of colorectal, breast and prostate cancers, heart disease and diabetes. However, contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as too much fibre. Anything over 70 grams per day can have negative effects, such as: bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea and intestinal blockage. Fibre can also bind to certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, thus lowering the amount your body is able to absorb (Duke Student Health). For some, these effects can begin with as little as 40 grams per day. It is therefore recommended to increase fibre intake slowly and stop when these effects make an appearance (Integrated Eating).

The 4th and final post of the 4-part Nutrition Basics Series.

Headshot of Sami Grosse

If you enjoyed this post, check out parts I, II and III of the Nutrition Basics 4-part Series.

Nutrition 101 – Macros

Part 1/4 of the Nutrition Basics Series. These are the basics of healthy eating. Learn about the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, lipids and water.

Nutrition 102 – Vitamins

Part 2/4 of the Nutrition Basics Series. Vitamins do not provide energy, however, they are important to the body’s growth, maintenance and metabolism.

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