Fibre – the Gut’s Secret Weapon

Unlike other food components such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, humans cannot digest fibre, but this does not detract from its incredible health benefits. Fibre rich foods require the same amount of chewing, if not more, giving the impression that you have had a big meal while not adding to the calorie count. The fibrous bulk in our meal takes longer to eat and is less ‘energy dense’, but it still fills you up so you stop eating earlier. Current advice is for women it to eat act least 25g and men at least 30g of mixed fibre a day, but most western diets fall short of this.

On a physiological level, fibre acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria, which reduces gut inflammation and improves gut immunity and integrity. Studies have demonstrated that fibre in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran can lower blood fats and bad LDL cholesterol, and help prevent features of metabolic syndrome such as insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and high blood pressure. Not surprisingly then, population studies have linked high fibre intake in whole foods such as grains, vegetables, pulses and fruit with lower rates all of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, premature ageing and functional disability.

Dietary fibre also protects against colon cancer by binding to potentially harmful bile acids and decreasing the transit time through the body. This reduces the amount of time the colon comes into contact with dietary carcinogens, including some of the compounds produced by meat consumption, especially processed meats.

Fibre intake also creates softer stools, which reduces the risk of constipation and its secondary consequences including haemorrhoids (piles) diverticular disease and hernias. We are all familiar with the common symptoms of constipation – discomfort, bloating and abdominal cramps – but people suffering from chronic constipation can experience other symptoms such as fatigue, apprehension, irritability, reduced mood and even depression.

Although not eating enough fibre is the main cause of constipation, other factors that disrupt the daily routine including travelling, dehydration, surgery and a sedentary lifestyle can also cause problems; as well as medications such as codeine, tramadol, morphine and iron the supplements. Despite the frequency of constipation, it is often addressed only when it becomes a significant issue. Prevention strategies are always better than waiting until constipation has set in and you have to resort to laxatives.

Fibre can be found in a wide range of natural foods, traditionally split into soluble and insoluble subtypes:

Fibre rich foods

Whole fruits: especially apples, pears, pineapples, plums, figs, bananas.
Whole berries: cherries, prunes and grapes.
Dried fruits: prunes, raisins, dates and apricots in moderation.
Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas.
Cereals: whole grains, bran, wholemeal oat and porridge.
Seeds: dried pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseed.
Nuts all, but particularly hazelnuts and almonds.
Salads: lettuce, watercress, radish and peppers.
Leafy green vegetables: cabbage, sprouts, and spinach.
Vegetables: squashes, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.

So, there you have it, some food for thought. In the SkinLikes office, the staff all have a variety of lots and grains for breakfast, and in the cold mornings we have a steaming hot plate of good old porridge, that cannot be faulted for anything.

The wheat and oats and indeed everything on our list have been shown to increase the bioavailability of minerals like calcium in the foods – that in turn help maintain bone density, which as we all age, is something that is important to us all. Indeed, keep on the move, should be everyone’s motto.

This is another in a series of ‘health-related’ articles that we have started writing every few days. But if there is something that you would particularly like us to write about, then get in touch and we will be more than happy to help. Apart from knowing much about essential oils and their benefits, we have a good knowledge that we are more than happy to share with you, our lovely customers.

Kind regards and best wishes to everyone from the Jim & Sheila and the team at

Freephone: 0800 023 6252

Hotline to Jim: 0780 144 5012

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