Fibre – What is it and why do we need it?

13/06/2018 Help for Parents

Fibre is one of those things we don’t really think much about, particularly for kids, as it seems to be more of a problem later in life. So, it’s not an elegant nutrition topic but it’s very important!

What is dietary fibre?

Fibre is found in plant foods like wholegrains, fruit and veggies. When we eat fibre-containing foods, the fibre passes through our gut undigested [1]. It is essential for a healthy digestive system and preventing diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease & bowel cancer [1]! Our gut plays a huge role in our overall health, which is why eating high fibre foods has a wide range of benefits [2]. We are constantly hearing of new research on the benefits of dietary fibre – it just keeps getting better and better!

Did you know that most Australians do not consume enough dietary fibre?

There are two different types of dietary fibre – soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. They each have different functions and health benefits, and are both present in most plant foods [1]!

Soluble fibre is found in oats, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils, fruits & vegetables [2]. This fibre slows down digestion and helps us to stay fuller for longer [1]. Soluble fibre stabilises our blood sugar levels, and can lower cholesterol reabsorption [2].

Insoluble fibre keeps us regular and the whole system running smoothly [3]. Insoluble fibre is also super filling [1]! It can be found in cereal brans, the skins of fruit & vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wholegrain foods [1].

Resistant Starch works like fibre by resisting digestion in our small intestine and travels on to our large intestine where it acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the good bacteria that keeps our gut healthy [2]. Resistant starch can be found in pasta served al dente, in bananas that aren’t too spotty, plantains, cooked and cooled potato, and ‘hi maize’ (found in commercial foods like breads and cereals) [2].

That’s the wrap on dietary fibre! If you’d like some recipe ideas to help you and your family meet their fibre needs, click here.


Written by Elly George – Nutrition and Food Advisor