Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Health Check: are you eating the right sorts of fibre?

By David Topping, Arwen Cross and Christopher Hammang

Getting enough fibre is important, but getting a combination of fibre is imperative for good digestive health.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Six out of ten Australians don’t eat enough fibre, and even more don’t get the right combination of fibres.

Eating dietary fibre - food components (mostly derived from plants) that resist human digestive enzymes - is associated with improved digestive health. High fibre intakes have also been linked to reduced risk of several serious chronic diseases, including bowel cancer.

In Australia, we have a fibre paradox: even though our average fibre consumption has increased over the last 20 years and is much higher than in the United States and the United Kingdom, our bowel cancer rates haven’t dropped.

This is probably because we’re eating a lot of insoluble fibre (also known as roughage) rather than a combination of fibres that includes fermentable fibres, which are important for gut health.

The different types of fibre

Eating a combination of different fibres addresses different health needs. The NHMRC recommends adults eat between 25 and 30 grams of dietary...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.