Fibre is a type of carbohydrate (just like sugars and starches) but since it is not broken down by the human body, it does not contribute any calories. Yet, on a food label, fibre is listed under total carbohydrate. So this gets kind of confusing for people who have diabetes. Carbohydrate is the one nutrient that has the biggest impact on blood glucose. So, does fibre have any effect on your blood glucose?
The answer is that fibre does not raise blood glucose levels. This is because it is not broken down/digested by the body. This makes fibre one of the most important nutrient for diabetics in controlling blood sugar levels since this is a carbohydrate which does not trigger insulin for blood glucose.
There are two types of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble. Most foods contain both types but are usually richer in one type than the other.
Soluble fibre: Found in oat, oat bran, linseeds, barley, fruit & vegetable, nuts, beans, pulses, soya and lentils.
Insoluble fibre: Good sources include wholemeal bread, bran, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds and the skin of some fruit and vegetables.
So, what are the daily recommended intake for fibre?
Adults 16 years and over: 30g per day
11-16 years: 25g per day
5-11 years: 20g per day
2-5 years: 15g per day
You can compare the back of pack nutritional labels on prepacked foods and choose the food with a higher amount of fibre. At times this information may not be available, but there are other ways of choosing foods high in dietary fibre:
Look for words such as ‘wholemeal’, ‘whole-wheat’ and ‘whole grain’ on labels. Whole-grain carbohydrates tend to be higher in fibre and lower in GI (glycemic index), which means they have less of an effect on your blood glucose levels.
Choose wholemeal, seeded or multi-grain bread – these are higher in fibre than white varieties. Brown bread is not as high in fibre as a whole meal.
Instead of white pasta or rice, choose the brown/whole-wheat type.
Go for beans, pulses and lentils – add to casseroles, soups, salads and curries. Choose oat-based, bran or wholegrain breakfast cereals.
Buy a selection of interesting and seasonal fruit and vegetables to help you aim for your five-a-day target.
Couscous and quinoa, which are whole grains, are a great source of fibre.
QUOTE: Fibre is one of the power house of nutrition.