Taming the Hunger Monster: How Good Nutrition Keeps Your Appetite in Check - Part Two - Fibre
Last time, we started discussing the role of protein in maintaining good appetite control (otherwise known as satiety). Remember, that sensation that happens between the times where you’re not hungry but also not feeling too full? This week we’ll continue this dialogue, with a focus on another nutrient that helps you feel very satisfied: fibre.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that doesn’t get broken down by the body well during the process of eating and digestion, often leaving remnants to get rid of (how’s that for lunchtime reading?). So, what’s the purpose then? If the body has difficulties digesting fibre, why do you even need it?
First, it’s important to distinguish between the two types of fibre in your diet: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre does not break down in water, which makes it helpful in bulking up stools to maintain good bowel health and regularity (insoluble fibre makes softer stools that are more consistently passed––goodbye constipation!). Interestingly, since insoluble fibre creates a lot of volume in the stomach and intestines during digestion, you tend to feel really full or satiated when eating a high-fibre meal.
On the other hand, soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, which has a positive effect on both blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Soluble fibre does not raise blood sugar levels and it also attaches itself to cholesterol compounds in the gut (to help remove cholesterol from the body). Soluble fibre also has a magical effect on gut bacteria (this is a very hot topic in nutrition research right now, as scientists are trying to better understand the link between keeping our gut bacteria happy and its positive effect on weight management and overall health). Lastly, and most relevant to this blog post, soluble fibre slows down the rate of digestion. In the presence of soluble fibre, food is broken down at a slower pace, so that you feel full longer.
It’s important to have a good mix of both types of fibres in your diet to help optimize your health, as well as maintain that ever-elusive state of satiety as noted above.
What Foods Give Us Fibre?
Insoluble Sources: whole grains (wheat, rye, buckwheat, couscous), wheat bran, skins of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds (including chia seeds)
Soluble Sources: oats, oat bran, legumes (think chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans), lentils, barley, flaxseed, fruits, vegetables, psyllium husk
Now you have a few good reasons to get enough fibre in your diet! Stay tuned for the next installment of this blog post series which focuses on fats.