Nutrition for Personal Training:What is Fibre?

By September 21, 2009 October 20th, 2011 No Comments

Having been given our fact sheets and nutritional advice, one of our personal training clients with Stephen in Richmond asked the question “What is fibre?”. It seems like a simple one, it’s bandied about constantly in the media as something good, but what is it. The true definition of fibre is, according to the oxford dictionary is

“dietary material containing substances such as cellulose, that are resistant to the action of digestive enzymes.”

In personal trainer college we were taught that fibre is insoluble woody or plant like structures that cannot be (or are difficult to) digested by mammals. So therefore fibre has no nutritional value and contains no vitamins or minerals. Immediately we can see that this is a good thing; something we eat but that contains no usable calories, hooray! But there are other good things that fibre does for us.

  • Fibre helps your digestive system to process food and absorb nutrients.
  • Fibre lowers blood cholesterol.
  • Fibre helps to control blood sugar levels, which in turn controls appetite.
  • There are two types of fibre: insoluble and soluble.

    Insoluble fibre

  • Insoluble fibre contains cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. It helps your bowel to pass food by making stools soft and bulky. This type of fibre helps prevent constipation.

    Insoluble fibre is found in the following foods:

    • beans
    • brown rice
    • fruits with edible seeds
    • lentils
    • maize
    • oats
    • pulses
    • wheat bran
    • wholegrain breads
    • wholegrain cereals
    • wholemeal breads
    • wholemeal cereals
    • wholemeal pasta
    • wholewheat flour.

    Soluble fibre

    Soluble fibre contains gums and pectin. This type of fibre lowers cholesterol levels and controls blood sugar. It can be found in all fruit and vegetables, but the following are rich sources:

    • apples
    • barley
    • citrus
    • guar gum
    • legumes
    • oats
    • pears
    • strawberries.

    How much do I need?

    Current advice says adults should aim for 18g fibre a day. Most of us eat less than this, and The British Nutrition Foundation puts the average adult intake at 12g. So get going and eat some more fibre. It is also useful as it fills us up but has, as we have already noted, no calorific value. Remember also that the first rule of nutrition is sort your surroundings; be prepared and make sure that by planning ahead you are surrounded at home and at work by good foods in small amounts, so that everything you need is readily available, and there is not too much around that will lead you astray! Have a look on our knowledge page for more information, or have a look at other blogs too.

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