Most proponents of dietary supplements, especially athletes or fitness aficionados, prioritize protein as the basic building block of performance and gains, other nutrients play an important role.
Fibre is often overlooked, or seen as an afterthought, with research suggesting most North Americans aren’t meeting their daily food fibre needs.
Aside from maintaining a healthy digestive system, incorporating the necessary amount of fibre can aid in fat loss, improve cholesterol, decrease the risk of certain cancers, and improve blood sugar control. Dietary fibre can be found in many food sources, and is also popularly consumed as a powdered supplement.
Food Sources of Fibre
- Lentils: Containing more than fifteen grams per one quarter cup of dried lentils, this ingredient can be consumed on its own or included in a variety of popular dishes. Aside from fibre, lentils also provide a good source of vegetable protein, nearly thirteen grams in each serving.
- Edamame: While Edamame beans contain less protein than lentils, nearly eight grams per one half cup, these green soybeans are a delicious addition to any diet. They can be purchased fresh or frozen, and are typically served steamed with crushed salt. Along with fibre this ingredient also provides eight grams of protein per serving.
- Barley: On the grains side, hulled barley can contain up to eight grams of fibre per one fourth cup of dry material. This is the whole-grain form of barley with the outermost hull removed. The more common pearled barley is lower in nutrient value because the bran and outer husk layers have been removed.
Popular Powdered Supplements
While taking supplements wont make up for poor eating habits, they come in many forms ranging from capsules to powders.
Most of these products contain fibre compounds which are derived from natural sources, or made in a laboratory setting.
Extracted sources of fibre include:
- pectin (a type of sugar found in vegetables)
- gum (a sugar found in seeds)
- and lignin (a compound in plant cells).
Manufactured fibres can include:
- and polydextrose
Manufactured fibres do not contain the same type of nutrients found in food sources of fibre, and are often used in food production for their stabilizing and thickening qualities.
Natural Vs. Manufactured Fibre
While it has been shown that dietary fibre from whole foods, particularly cereals and fruits, protects you from heart disease, there is limited research as to how functional (manufactured) fibre affects heart health.
Second, natural pectin and cellulose sources of fibre from fruits and vegetables promote digestive health more effectively than isolated forms. Finally, adding functional fibre to low-fibre foods wont necessarily make them more “full”.
Whether you are looking to balance your diet effectively, achieve successful weight-loss, or increase athletic performance, incorporating more fibre is essential.
Dietary supplements can be an important addition to your regimen, but it is contentious whether they provide the same important nutrients that whole fruits and vegetables provide.
In the end, finding a routine which works for you is the most important, but by increasing daily fibre intake you can expect many health benefits.
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