Adding Fibre to Your Grocery List

Jun 19, 2013

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy


Eating healthy is a big marketing opportunity for food companies. Gluten free, diet, low fat, calorie wise, no fans fats and low sodium on packaging are big hit sellers. Another ingredient more consumers are looking for on the label is fibre. This is for good reason. Fibre helps prevent and treat constipation, provides a feeling of fullness which can lead to less calorie intake, and may help to lower cholesterol. Increased fibre can even improve the symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome and is said to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Dietary fibre is the indigestible portions of food plants with two main parts. The first is soluble fibre, which gets fermented in the colon. This fermentation in the colon creates health benefits such as the potential to lower cholesterol and possibly blood sugar levels. The second part is insoluble fibre, found in bran, whole grains and in the skins of fruit, which does not get broken down broken down in the colon. Rather, insoluble fibre absorbs water in the digestive system and helps with passing stool. When the insoluble fibre absorbs water, it has bulking action, providing a feeling of fullness. The insoluble fibre also helps shorten transit time in the colon.

Fibre is found naturally in many foods such as legumes, flax, oats, plum like fruits, apples, pears and bananas. However, getting enough fibre is not as easy as one may think. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation says a majority of Canadians are getting less than half the recommended amount of fibre in their diet. A healthy adult needs between 21 grams of fibre if you are a female and up to 38 grams per day for males.

Meeting the requirements sounds easy, but for many it is not. Two slices of white bread contain only 2 grams of fibre. Whole wheat and multigrain bread have 3 to 4 grams of fibre. Most cereals only contain 1 to 3 grams of fibre per serving. However, some cereals contain up to five grams of fibre. As a challenge, when you are at the grocery store see how many cereals you can find with more than 5 grams of fibre per serving.

Remember foods are allowed to put a source of fibre on their labeling if a serving contains more than two grams of fibre. Rather than reading the front of the package, turn it around and read the nutritional label. Under carbohydrates, fibre and the amount in each serving will be listed. An apple or pear contains approximately 2 grams of fibre, while bananas have 1.5 grams. A 20 gram serving of raisins has 7 grams, while a handful of dried prunes can have over 10 grams of fibre. Dried fruit always contains more fibre per gram than fresh fruit because most of the fibre comes from the fruits skin.

If you are finding it hard to obtain enough dietary fibre there are supplements available. Metamucil is probably the most popular. It is a powder which is mixed with cold liquid to form a drink. One teaspoon of Metamucil in a cup of water can provide up to 5.4 g of fibre. Metamucil comes in unflavored powder and in orange flavor. It is also available in a sugar free formula. I have tried the orange sugar free product and to my surprise the taste was good and it was easy to drink. Metamucil now makes a fibre bar, which makes a good snack!

If you need help planning a healthy diet with lots of fibre stop by the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy and speak to your pharmacist. We can also refer you to a dietician if you need additional help.

Next time you are writing your grocery list, add fibre to it!


As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.


The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.


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