Count Your Fibre too!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? It is the last day of 2021 today and I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Have you made any new year resolutions? Do share 🙂

I haven’t made any for the last 3 years. I am too impatient to wait for the new year to start on a resolution or something new ?. I did make one about having one fruit every day, the last time I made one. My diet then, seriously lacked fruits and thankfully, I have managed to stick to it till today.

Today’s post is on fibre. I have written on it earlier also. On my cake labels, I mention fibre also along with calories, protein, carbs and fats. Someone wondered why I mention fibre, hardly anyone does. And right there I knew that I have to write on fibre again.

It might be highly under-rated especially when we calculate macros but for our body, it is very important. Right now, it is clubbed under carbohydrates but I am pretty sure that soon, it would occupy its own place of honor as the 7th major nutrient group.

What is fibre?

We associate fibre with easy bowel movement and that’s all, right? This is so far from the truth!

The world is now waking up to gut-flora and friendly bacteria. Words like probiotic and prebiotic are now gaining momentum. Till now, we associated intestines with just digestion and bowel movement.

Today, we know that our intestines are way, way more than just that! It is like a second brain out  there, in our gut!

Dietary fibre is the indigestible part of the plant-based foods such as cereals, veggies and fruits. It is included in carbohydrates group of macronutrients. So, basically any carbohydrates that we can’t digest, are fibre. Fibre:

  • Helps in keeping our digestive system in good shape
  • Relieves constipation, helps in IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and prevents hemorrhoids
  • Helps in heart-diseases management
  • Lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol
  • Reduces risks of certain types of cancers such as bowel and breast cancers
  • Helps in weight management and obesity
  • Helps in diabetes management – by keeping sugar-levels in check
  • Helps in hormonal balance
  • Helps in keeping the gut-flora flourishing and this alone leads to huge benefits in terms of overall health, including mental health (sounds strange, right?)
  • Reducing inflammation in body and supporting immune system

Types of Fibre

There are two types of fibre, depending upon their solubility in water. Most foods contain both the types in varying ratios.

  • Soluble – Soluble fibre absorbs lot of water and bulks up our stool for easy movement as well as in slowing down of digestion. Can be metabolized by the good gut bacteria. Good sources of soluble fibre are:
  • Bran – from oats, barley
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Legumes, lentils, bean etc.
  • Soy milk and soy products
  • flaxseed
  • psyllium
  • Insoluble – Insoluble fibre does opposite of what soluble fibre does. It does not absorb water and it actually slows down the time that food spends in our intestines. Good sources include:
  • Bran – wheat, rice and corn etc.
  • Peels/skin of fruits and veggies
  • Wholegrain foods
  • Nuts and seeds

Then there is resistant starch which is not really fibre but works like it. This is also very important for our gut bacteria. Out gut-bacteria thrive on it and convert it into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are super-important for our cholesterol levels as well as bowel health. Good sources of resistant starch are:

  • Potatoes
  • Bananas – unripe
  • Lentils
  • Unprocessed cereals and grains

How Much Fibre In A Day?

The recommended fibre intake for adults is 25 gm for women and 30-38 gm for men. For children, depending upon their age, it ranges from 18g to 28 g, boys needing a bit more than the girls.

Fibre is important for everyone and even more so, for older people since their digestion tends to slow down with age.

It is not difficult to achieve these figures provided we add these to our diet on a daily basis:

  • Wholegrains and wholegrain products such as breads, atta etc
  • Breakfast cereals such as – oats, wheat, barley
  • Quinoa, chia seeds, fresh coconut, dark chocolate, popcorn
  • Adding more veggies and fruits to our diet especially apples, pears, berries, bananas, beetroots, carrots, sweet potatoes, methi and other leafy vegetables as well as green beans
  • Eating peels and skins with our fruits and veggies, whenever edible
  • Adding legumes – pulses, beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Adding dried fruits and nut in our diet (in moderation) such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkins/sunflower seeds

In The End

  • Make sure to consume lot of water while upping your daily dietary fibre intake
  • Make sure to increase your dietary fibre intake slowly to avoid any abdominal discomfort
  • Very high-fibre diet (40gms or more) are linked to various nutritional deficiencies as well
  • Fibre supplements should only be taken after consulting with your doctor or nutritionist

Hope you found today’s post useful. Do join me on Instagram for more such info, on this link

Happy New Year once again and till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Carbs: Good or Bad?

Hi Friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Did you use the BMI-calculator that I put in my blog-post, last Friday? Did you fall in the Asian normal (or even western normal) range? If you did, great! Keep doing whatever you are doing.

If you didn’t fall into the normal healthy range, please start with some lifestyle modifications at the soonest so that you can nip any weight-related diseases/illnesses, in the bud only.

If you already are in early stages of any lifestyle-related disease or illness, don’t worry. If you take care now, majority of them are either reversed or easily managed. Don’t underestimate human body or nutrition!

I keep on writing about various things that one can do and about many others that we can take care of through our diets, to achieve our health and fitness goals. Whether you want to feel/look great or you simply want to manage certain medical issues, there is no easy way around. You have to start…and stay consistent. However, the good news is that it isn’t that hard either! You just need to give it 3 months and these good habits would take care of themselves after these initial three months. Why? You would know on your own, just try. It’s magic!

And when you do start to make lifestyle/diet/fitness related changes, make sure that you don’t treat the precious carbs as your worst enemies! Carbs or carbohydrates, are vital to us. They are the primary fuel-source for our body and our bodies are designed that way only. Any other way is neither natural nor sustainable for long!

What Exactly Are Carbs

One of the basic food groups (or macronutrients), carbohydrates are the sugar, starch and fibre component of any food that we eat. Almost every food that we eat has carbs in it.

In our body, sugar and starch is broken down for glucose, for energy. In human body, glucose is the main source of energy. This energy is required for our body to perform all daily activities. Each single cell, each of the vital functions of the internal organs as well as daily voluntary or involuntary actions that we do, need energy.

Dietary fibre doesn’t get broken down in our body however is needed for gut-bacteria as well as our digestive health.

Carbohydrates are divided into 3 types:

  • Monosaccharides – are simple sugars e.g. glucose. Other types of monosaccharides are galactose and fructose
  • Diasaccharides – When two monosaccharides form a bond e.g. lactose, maltose, sucrose
  • Polysaccharides – A long chain of monosaccharides e.g. starch, cellulose, glycogen etc.

Simple carbs are naturally present in fruits, veggies, milk, honey, white sugar etc as well as in the form of additional sugars that is added to most processed foods. Foods rich in starch and fibre can also be referred to as Complex carbs.

Now, coming to how carbs got a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss. We can divide carbs in two categories: good carbs and bad carbs, for the ease of understanding and to simplify it all.

Good carbs are present in high-fibre foods and our body takes a longer time to break them down. Examples of good carbs are – whole grains, products made of whole grains, vegetables and fruits (with the peels/skin whenever possible).

Foods that have a low fibre content are generally called bad carbs. Some examples are – white bread, white flour products, bakery items, cookies, fruit juices etc

Good Carb Sources

Not all carbs are same! However, one would not need to count carbs if one eats a diet full of whole veggies, whole fruits, legumes and whole grains. The fibre content makes all the difference, be it the soluble or insoluble kind.

Would I Gain Weight If I Eat Carbs?

As a person specializing in nutrition, I would not think of food – for weight loss alone or in terms of carbs only. Neither should a person interested in weight loss. It also is about the other nutrients that we get from the food that we eat. And carbs are NOT the “cause” for your weight gain!

Yes, too much of sugar can result into fat-deposits in our body but one can’t blame the entire food group ‘carbohydrate’ for it.

Personally, I never measure carbohydrates in my own daily diet. It is more about calories and nutrition, to be honest. Fibre is super important. As long as I am eating a well-balanced diet which has all the macronutrients including fibre, I am good. Same goes for everyone else!

Any diet which is low-carb might give you a jump-start in your weight loss plan however it is not sustainable in long run. Diets which are low-carb and high-fat, should be taken with proper care as the presence of unhealthy fat/oils in such foods might cause heart diseases later.

For long-term, our best bet is to stick with a balanced diet with everything in moderation. Diets rich in whole grain, veggies and fruits are the best and easiest to follow. They are nutrient-rich and are easily sustainable as well as enjoyable.

I hope that with this post today, you would know that carbs are vital for us and to cut them off completely, would be a bad idea. Rather stick to moderation and remember one thumb rule, “fibre is good”. Do join me on Instagram for many more mini-blogs and nutrition/health info in my daily stories!

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

All About Carbs

Hi friends, how was the week that went by?

A little more chaotic than usual for me as my laptop’s keyboard got stuck and now I am working with a borrowed keyboard. My help announced that she is going on a leave for a week. Can’t even tell you how crazy it is at home, many a times, right now!! Anyways, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

A few of you have asked me about a very popular diet-concept which works on low-carb and high-fat concept. I am sorry I have never gone that route and I can’t say if it is a good choice in general. My only problem with fad-diets is that they are not sustainable for long. Calorie deficit and moderation concepts have worked for me so well that I do not need to restrict my diet in any way. I prefer that. It’s fun and healthy!!

However, I can tell you about carbs/carbohydrates today and you can make the choice yourself ?

What Are Carbs?

In nutrition terms, carbs or carbohydrates to be precise, are one of the three macro-nutrients – the other two being protein and fat. Each has a unique role to play within our body!

Carbs can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Sugar – We all understand sugar. Sweet in taste and short-chained carbohydrates. Sugar is a huge category in itself and is pretty vast. I have already written in detail so would leave it today. Read this post here, here and here to understand sugar better if you want
  • Starch – These are long-chained glucose molecules. Our body’s digestive system further breaks these down into simple glucose molecules
  • Fibre – Fibres can be soluble or insoluble. Our body  can’t digest fibres mostly however these are very important for many other reasons especially good digestive health

Types Of Carbs

Carbohydrates are further divided into Simple and Complex carbs:

  • Simple carbs are found in sugary stuff including sugary drinks, juices, baked goods, white breads/pastas/rice etc. It includes no natural fibre and is mostly highly processed. Considered unhealthy in general
  • Complex carbs are found in whole fruits, vegetables, pulses/legumes and whole grains. These are generally healthy in nature

Did You Know?

Technically, our bodies can survive on zero carbs. A few fad-diets rely on this technicality. Our brain can use ketones for energy in emergency. Ketones are made of fats.

However, just because it is not essential doesn’t mean our bodies doesn’t need them or we should skip them! Lot of carb-containing foods are healthy and contain so many nutrients that skipping them is a bad idea!

Why Do We Need Carbs?

The main purpose of carbs in out diet is to provide our body with energy. It is our body’s main fuel source. Our body is capable of breaking down carbohydrates in to simple glucose molecules to be used as energy. Our body also stores excess carbs as fat, for use when needed later.

Fiber can’t be digested in our body except for by some gut-bacteria and these bacteria can produce fatty acid from this fiber, for energy again.

Which are Good Carbs?

As a thumb rule, good carbs are with natural fibre intact and these are healthy. Non-processed and whole!

These are essential for human body and are rich in nutrients, without most of the disadvantages associated with bad carbs e.g. fresh veggies (including potatoes and sweet potatoes), whole fruits, yoghurt, milk, nuts, seeds, whole grains (including brown rice), legumes/pulses etc

Moderation is the keyword.

And Which Are Bad Carbs?

  • Associated with many health problems including Type 2 diabetes and obesity-related illnesses and many chronic diseases
  • Provide empty calories
  • Cause insulin spikes and crashes

All the sugary drinks including juices, bakery items, biscuits, ice-creams, chocolates, candies, breads, pastas and anything that falls under the category of junk-food. Avoid these or indulge occasionally only, if you have to!

In The End

Every body’s carb requirements are different. Don’t think of carbs as plain calories. Your carb-intake should depend upon your individual goals and requirements. If weight loss or managing a specific health concern is your goal, your carb-intake should be regulated. However, if you are a healthy person, you need your carbs – just make sure you get your carbs from healthy, wholesome sources – rich in fibre, protein, vitamin and minerals!

Sudden and drastic cut in carbs can result in headaches, bad breath, cramps, fatigue, rashes and upset digestive system. If you choose to highly regulate your carb intake and experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please see the doctor immediately.

Remember, it’s the type and quantity you eat, not the carbohydrates themselves!

If you liked today’s post, do share it with people you think might benefit from it. Till next Friday,

Hugs, Health and Peace