Fibre and heart disease prevention!

Happy New Year everyone!!

This New Year’s Eve might have been one of the best ones yet for me! After deciding I was going to just stay home and go to bed early, my roommate was able to talk me into going with her to downtown Toronto. So glad I went! Great times, people AND fireworks!

After a bit of thought, I have a few resolutions for 2013… 1) talk to my family more 2) be a bit less of a hermit lol and 3) climb outside even more than I did last year! :D Do you guys have any resolutions for 2013?

Here’s a picture of me climbing in Collingwood, Ontario :)

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More and more research is reporting a lower rate of heart disease in individuals with higher dietary fibre intakes. Fibre effectively decreases total and LDL cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity, improves satiety, decreases inflammation, etc. Are you getting enough? This post will be on the importance of fibre for heart disease prevention! Hope you enjoy!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries. It is considered an inflammatory disease beginning with free radical deposition, an increased total and LDL cholesterol and lipoprotein remnants at the subendotheilia of our arteries. Local inflammation, calcification, arterial thrombosis, plaque disruption and vasoconstriction follow. Its development ultimately depends on the number of oxidized lipoproteins in, primarily, the arterial subendotheium. Diets alone can effectively lower the LDL and total cholesterol content, oxidation, blood pressure, thrombogenesis, etc.

So clearly a diet high in fibre protects us from heart disease, but what exactly is dietary fibre? Dietary fiber can be defined as edible plant material that’s resistant to digestion in our small intestine. It is considered a “complex carbohydrate.” Fibre can be categorized as either soluble or insoluble…

Soluble Fiber, like the name suggests, can partially dissolve in water to form a gel. This gel can slowly move through our digestive systems, trapping fat and toxins along the way, eventually removing them from our bodies. The heart benefits from soluble fibre are primarily due to the longer time it takes to digest and slower rates of absorption. Good sources include nuts, seeds, fruits, beans, lentils, flax, legumes, carrots, etc.

Insoluble Fiber, on the other hand, doesn’t dissolve in water and moves through our digestive tract undigested. It helps to provide bulk, strengthen the muscles of our colon and essentially sweeps the walls of our colon, keeping them clean. As a result, insoluble fibre improves regularity, reduces constipation, removes toxins through the colon, decreases colon cancer risk, maintains intestinal pH, etc. Good sources include vegetables, fruit skins, seeds, etc. While soluble fibre has positive effects on reducing heart disease factors, insoluble fibres has been the most consistently shown to reduce heart disease risks.

The average North American doesn’t get nearly enough dietary fibre; a study in 2005 by statistics Canada showed that the average Canadian only consumed about 13 grams of fibre a day. The suggested fibre intake is actually between 25-40grams per day (a very wide range!); the upper end (or higher) would be my personal recommendation for optimal health. A prolonged inadequate fibre intake leads to the accumulation of undigested food in our colon which ferments, essentially goes bad and ultimately has toxic effects which leads to poor health and chronic disease. Why are we consistently missing the mark for fibre intake? Is it our education systems? The cost for healthy food? Our westernized diets continue to prove unhealthy, something needs to change!

So a wrap up; fibre keeps our bowels healthy, helps manage blood glucose, controls appetite, acts as a ‘prebiotic’, protects against chronic diseases (including heart disease), decreases calories absorbed, helps manage and prevent digestive disorders and helps eliminate unwanted substances from our bodies. Hopefully this post has shed some light on the importance of getting enough fibre!

Happy New Year everyone!

Jen

Nakada Y, Kurasawa H, Tohyama J, Inoue Y, Ikewaki K. (2007)Increased remnant lipoproteins in patients with coronary artery disease-evaluation utilizing a newly developed remnant assay, remnant lipoproteins cholesterol homogeneous assay (R3em-C). J Atheroscler Thromb; 14: 56-64.

Rouse IL, Armstrong BK, Beilin LJ, Vandongen R. (1983) Bloodpressure- lowering effect of a vegetarian diet: Controlled trial in normotensive subjects. Lancet; 321: 5-10.

Sanchez-Muniz F. (2012) Dietary fibre and cardiovascular health. Nutr Hosp.;27(1):31-45.