We all know that a high sugar diet isn’t good for our bodies, but it can be hard not to fall victim to constant temptation. However, what if we told you the amount of fibre you eat could help you curb your sugar cravings?
The relationship between fibre and sugar
Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. We all need fibre to keep our internal plumbing working well. Just like maintaining a good engine with oil and petrol, our body needs fibre to keep moving. Unsurprisingly, the average UK adult consumes only 60% of the recommended amount of fibre every day.
Here’s the scoop! Fibre offers a range of health benefits, but it may also be able to reduce your sugar intake and help regulate your blood sugar levels. Your body processes food like this:
- When we eat food, our body will work to digest this and turn it into glucose/sugar for energy. However, if we eat foods such as white flour, white pasta, white rice and white bread (also known as refined grains), these are quicker to digest due to the low amount of fibre they contain. This means our blood sugar level rises quickly after eating them.
- As the food digests, sugar/glucose is absorbed into the body. This means your blood sugar level will rise, and then shortly after it drops drastically.
- As our body tries to sustain this, our brain tells us we need more sugar – and then we may crave sugar or feel hungry again
However, foods high in fibre act differently. Although fibre is also a type of carbohydrate, its intake does not cause such a rapid change in blood sugar level.
This is one of the reasons why consuming wholegrain foods such as brown bread, brown rice and brown pasta can be really beneficial.
How much fibre do I need?
If you are above 16 years old, you need 30g of fibre a day. Children don't need as much fibre in their diet as older teenagers and adults, but they still need more than they get currently. The NHS suggests that:
- 2- to 5-year-olds need about 15g of fibre
- 5- to 11-year-olds need about 20g of fibre
- 11- to 16-year-olds need about 25g of fibre
For a rough idea, one medium pear contains 4 grams of fibre, one slice of wholemeal bread contains 7 grams of fibre and wholemeal pasta contains almost 50% more fibre than white pasta with 7 grams in a 75g portion.
The bottom line
We need glucose/sugar to survive. However, we do not need to consume items with high levels of added sugar, and it can certainly be beneficial for us to switch to wholegrain (brown) varieties of foods.