Benefits of a high-fibre diet
- Normalises bowel movements. Dietary fibre increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fibre may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
- Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fibre diet may lower your risk of developing haemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fibre diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fibre foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fibre — particularly soluble fibre — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fibre may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fibre foods tend to be more filling than low-fibre foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fibre foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less energy dense, which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
- Helps you live longer. Studies suggest that increasing your dietary fibre intake — especially cereal fibre— is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women aim for 25 grams of fibre per day and men consume 38 grams. However, only 5% of the population meet those numbers.
There are fibre supplements available in many forms that can help people who want to increase the amount of fibre in their diets if they’re not eating or getting enough from food.