Dietary fibre has many health benefits but could it be possible that it has an impact on our brain health as well? Based on the latest research, fibre might actually prevent conditions like depression, dementia, hypertension or functional disability.
We are only now beginning to realize how nutrients from food can change our genetic expression – turn genes on and off. In addition, our gut health and its friendly bacteria seem to play an important role in our mental health.
The changes in our gut and in the whole body are happening constantly depending on what we eat, how we feel and what’s in our environment. The good news is, that our body is building and repairing itself all the time and you can make a change in your health in just a few days!
Why do we need fibre from food?
Some types of fibre, such as pectin in apples, can bind with toxins and escort them out of the body (as a detoxifier). Fibre can normalize the bowel movements, stabilize blood sugar, balance cholesterol and boost satiety.
Fibre has also prebiotic effects which means that it’s feeding the good bugs in our intestines. Some of the fibre is turned into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by this friendly bacteria. SCFAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore they may play an important role in inflammatory diseases. All of this has an impact on our mental health as well.
Many berries such as blackcurrants promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Anthocyanins from blackcurrants increase the levels of Bifidobacterium, healthy bacteria commonly found in the gut and help to maintain proper function of digestive system and reducing the risk of gut inflammation.
The modern diet is lacking fibre
The bottom line is, that most of us should add a lot more dietary fibre into our western diet – soluble and insoluble. Best fibre sources are vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Unfortunately, people tend to eat most of their fibre in the form of cereals, skipping the veggies and often causing grain-related health problems.
The official recommendation for fibre in the UK is 18 grams a day but the Institute of Medicine is recommending 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women daily. Finnish recommendations for a daily fibre consumption is 25-35 grams for both, men and women. Do you know how much you are consuming?
In general, the darker the colour of the vegetable, the higher the fibre content. You need both, soluble and insoluble fibre and the plant-based food is a great source of both.
Psyllium is a soluble fibre derived from the seeds of Plantago Ovata, a herb mainly grown in India. It’s a great way to add more fibre to the diet along with vegetables, fruits and nuts. I add some psyllium fibre to my gluten-free bread dough and to my smoothies.
Remember if you juice the fruits and vegetables, you lose the fibre! Sometimes it’s a good thing to juice, especially if you are fasting, but in our everyday diet, the fibre has an important role to play.
Vegetables high in fibre:
- Green Peas
- Turnip Greens
- Brussel Sprouts
- Collard greens
Fruits high in fibre:
- Raspberries and other berries
- Apples (with skin)
- Pears (with skin)
- Dried Figs
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes high in fibre:
- Black Beans
- Lima Beans
- Split Peas
- Pinon nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Chia Seeds