Just what is fibre? It is the part of plants that cannot be digested and used by the human body. It is amazing food for the bacteria in our gut and very useful for keeping things moving.
Most people in fact do not get enough fibre. We should be getting about 30g a day (maybe a little less if you're a woman over 50, then 20g (ish) may do).
You might have known that boring fibre stuff, but did you know these two other rather interesting things about the effect of fibre?
Have you ever seen products advertising themselves as helping to lower cholesterol because they're high in fibre?
Just how does that work?
Is it a true claim?
What is the link between cholesterol and fibre?
Bile salts help to emulsify fat, and whilst we recycle many of them, we also excrete some too. Soluble dietary fibre binds to these bile salts and help us to get rid of them. Woahhh - what the heck is soluble dietary fibre?! That's just the fibre (stuff from plants we can't digest) found in oats, peas, carrots, beans, apples and citrus fruits.
Right, I'm with you so far. We get rid of some bile salts and fibre helps us do this. How is this linked to cholesterol?
We need cholesterol to make new bile, so if we are eliminating more bile salts through fibre, then our body has to use more cholesterol to make more.
So if you have a higher cholesterol reading, one option might be to increase your fibre or take a fibre supplement - in conjunction with advice from your doctor. This advice here is not a treatment for high cholesterol!!
Fibre also binds to other fat-soluble chemicals such as sex hormone metabolites. That's the raw materials used to make your sex hormones.
Too much fibre can lower sex hormone levels and disrupt menstrual cycles.
NO WAY. This was pretty big news for me too.
If a woman is:
- health conscious and trying to lose weight = having a lower energy intake
- less body fat
- physically active
It COULD be fibre that is removing the (already low levels) of sex hormones too quickly.
We don't want to flush our hormones down the toilet now are we?
But our menstrual cycle is an amazing feedback loop that tells us what is going on each month, and if it's looking a bit disruptive, it may be worth reviewing your energy intake and fibre intake.
Don't be scared of fibre; eat enough. Your body will let you know if it's too much!
Do you have any fibre questions? Let me know in the comments.
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