Fibre… Bowels of Fun for Everyone!

As a nutritionist I find bowel movements rather interesting. Not because I’m weird but because it can tell me quite a lot about how healthy your diet is and if you are eating well.

Your diet has the power to prevent you from developing a number of chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are the main ones. In terms of your digestive system, a healthy diet has the ability to help you maintain good digestive function and decrease your risk of diverticular disease and colon cancer.

So what’s the secret to a happy bottom? Fibre! Fibre only comes from plant based foods and is the indigestible part. That means that it goes right through you. You might be thinking, what’s the point if all it does is go in one end and out the other?

Fibre creates a nice bulky stool (poo!) and this helps the body to easily move toxins and carcinogens (cancer causing agents) out of the body. The longer is takes the body to move out the waste products the more time these toxins have in contact with the bowel wall and the more time they have to do damage. A high fibre diet moves undigested food through nice and quickly and thus ensures a healthy gut wall. You should have a B.E.E.P everyday.

The benefits of fibre don’t end there. Fibre also helps reduce cholesterol re-absorption, making it great for reducing your risk of heart disease. High fibre foods help us feel fuller for longer and have low energy density making them perfect for maintaining a healthy weight.

Choose these foods regularly for good digestive health:

  • Vegetables – Check out this post on how to get more vegetables into your day.
  • Fruit
  • Cereal – choose breakfast cereals that have at least 3g of fibre per serve. You can check this information on the nutrition information panel.
  • Wholemeal Bread – this has twice as much fibre as white bread. Rye Bread and Soy and Linseed are even better.
  • Wholemeal Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Legumes – beans, chick peas and lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds – linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

How’s your fibre intake?


Have you had a B.E.E.P today?

As an indicator of good digestive health we should have a B.E.E.P everyday. What am I talking about?

A couple of years ago I worked for a great company called Health Futures. The previous owner, Rob Edwards used to give seminars and in those presentations he would talk about the importance of having a B.E.EP. Although meant to envoke humour in the audience, there was a really important message. Don’t underestimate the importance of fibre in your diet.

B.E.E.P stands for:

Fibre creates bulk in our diet and helps move waste and undigested food easily through our digestive track. Large, easy to expel bowel movements are a great indicator that you are eating enough fibre everyday. It is recommended that we eat about 25-30g of fibre with the best sources coming from fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, seeds and cereal grains (brown rice,  wholewheat, oats, barely, rye, corn).

Not only will fibre contribute to a healthy gut, but there is a lot of emerging scientific evidence that suggests fibre is important in weight maintenance and that increasing your dietary fibre intake may be protective against obesity through better appetite control (Sleeth et al).

If you are trying to lose weight or improve your health in the whole area of bowel movements you can’t go past some fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Choose high fibre and you wont need to read on the loo, you wont be there long enough!

Have a good B.E.E.P!

Nutrition Research Reviews Vol 23, 2010, pp: 135-145.