For something that just passes through your digestive tract without actually being absorbed, dietary fibre contributes a lot to your health – especially heart health. An increased intake of fibre has been associated with a lower risk of heart conditions and blood sugar disorders. A moderate dietary fibre intake can also promote gastrointestinal regularity.
Despite its importance, most Canadians eat only half of their recommended daily fibre intake, and 25% are affected by constipation.[2,3]
The good news is that dietary fibre is widely available in many delicious plant-based foods. The trick is understanding what type of fibre you need, how much you should be eating, and which foods will give you the most.
There’s more than one type of fibre
Fibre is often described as soluble or insoluble. While both forms of fibre support heart health, they act in different ways and come from different sources.
Soluble fibre is fermented by beneficial bacteria in the gut. It enhances gastrointestinal health, function, and regularity, while also lowering the glycemic index (GI) of meals.  It becomes a viscous, gel-like substance when it is mixed with water during digestion. This slows the movement of food through your digestive tract, which helps keep you feeling full longer. Soluble fibre is also believed to help lower LDL (also known as bad cholesterol) levels by preventing it from being absorbed during digestion.
Great sources of soluble fibre include beans, oatmeal, apples, and seeds.
Insoluble fibre does not change form when digested or mixed with water. It essentially passes through your digestive tract unchanged. This adds bulk to help push food through your intestines faster and can help lower your calorie intake by making you feel full from smaller portions of food. Great sources include vegetables, fruit peels, seeds, nuts, lentils, and whole grains such as brown rice.
How much fibre do you need?
Nutritional experts recommend that women eat 25 g of fibre daily and men eat 38 g. Look for products with at least 2 g of fibre listed on the Nutrition Facts panel, and eat a wide variety of plant-based foods so you get a good mix of both types of fibre needed to keep your heart healthy.
Low FODMAP fibre
For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders, getting enough dietary fibre can be difficult. This is because many high-fibre foods and supplements are high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). These are carbohydrates, such as inulin, psyllium, bran, and wheat, which are difficult for some people to digest and absorb. They increase water retention and more rapid bacterial fermentation in the gut, causing abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation in people with IBS.[5,6]
Fibre for digestive health
By adding a couple extra servings of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, pulses, and whole grains to your daily meals and snacks, you’ll increase your fibre intake.
If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues, poor digestion, or digestive upset, including more low-FODMAP fibre sources may be the key. A great choice is Low FODMAP Organic Reliefibre,™ which is certified by Monash University.
Reliefibre is an organic fibre supplement that mixes easily with water, juice, or foods without changing their texture. It is made from organic partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). This is a natural, low-FODMAP dietary fibre. It is water-soluble and fermented more slowly in the intestinal tract than some other prebiotic fibres, making it easier to tolerate. By normalizing stool consistency and bulk, Reliefibre offers benefits for both constipation and diarrhea.
Easy and delicious
Increasing your fibre intake is one of the simplest steps that you can take to improve your heart and digestive health. By stocking your kitchen with a variety of plant-based, fibre-rich, low-FODMAP foods, you’ll be able to make delicious, digestive-friendly meals every day.
 Ye EQ, Chacko SA, Chou EL, et al. Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. J Nutr. 2012; 142(7):1304-1313.
 Abdullah M, Gyles C, Marinangeli C, et al. Dietary fibre intakes and reduction in functional constipation rates among Canadian adults: a cost-of-illness analysis. Food Nutr Res. 2015; 59. dio: 10.3402/fnr.v59.28646
 Government of Canada. Fiber. Web. 2017. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/fibre.html [Accessed 14th January 2019].
 Kapoor MJ, Ishihara N, Okubo T. Soluble dietary fibre partially hydrolysed guar gum markedly impacts on postprandial hyperglycaemia, hyperlipidaemia and incretins metabolic hormones over time in healthy and glucose intolerant subjects. J Func Foods. 2016; 24:207-220.
 Quartarone G. Role of PHGG as a dietary fiber: a review article. Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2013; 59(4):329-340.
 Mudgil D, Barak S, Patel A, et al. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum as a potential prebiotic source. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018; 112:207-210.