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Get the facts about fibre in your diet

Facts about fibre
Stock pictures of vegetables ready to be eaten in a tray

Fibre is an important component of your daily food intake, but it’s one that is often overlooked. Fibre is a carbohydrate that passes through your digestive system without being digested. It is an important part of a healthy diet.

What are the types of fibre?

There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.

  • Soluble fibre is the soft fibre that helps control blood sugar by delaying stomach emptying; this slows down the entry of glucose into your blood stream, and reduces the rise in your post-meal blood sugar levels.
  • Insoluble fibre is the bulky fibre that helps to prevent constipation.
fibre and diabetes

What are the benefits of fibre?

Fibre is beneficial for:

Controlling blood sugar

When we eat soluble fibre, it slows down the digestive process. This means that glucose is released into the blood more slowly and over a longer time frame. This means a more even level of glucose, and less peaks after eating.

Reducing cholesterol levels

Soluble fibre can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL, also known as the 'bad cholesterol').

Increasing the feeling of being full

Eating foods that are higher in fibre gives the sensation of being more full. As a result, people feel less hungry between meals. Fibre is a bulkier nutrient and makes the stomach more distended which sends signals to the brain that suppress the appetite.

Regulating bowel movements

Fiber adds bulk to the stool making it softer and easier to pass.

fibre and diabetes

How can you add more fibre to your diet?

Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Unfortunately, many people don't get enough fibre. The table below lists food sources of soluble and insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibre sources Insoluble fibre sources
Legumes (navy beans, kidney beans, soybeans) Legumes (beans and peas)
Bran, oats, rye and barley Wheat bran
Some fruits, such as figs, avocados, plums, prunes, ripe bananas, apples and pears Some fruits, such as avocado and unripe bananas
Berries, including raspberries, blackberries and strawberries The skins of some fruits, including kiwis, grapes and tomatoes
Certain vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots Certain vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini and celery
Root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions Potato skins
Nuts (almonds are one of the best sources) Nuts
Flax seeds Whole grain breads and pastas

Reading food labels

It’s important to check the Nutrition Facts Table on packaged foods, to ensure that you’re getting the best fibre content possible. According to Health Canada’s Nutrition Labelling program, the following claims can be made about fibre content in foods:

  • Foods with at least 2 grams of fibre per serving can claim to be a “source” of fibre
  • Foods with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving can claim to be a “good source” of fibre
  • Foods with at least 6 grams of fibre per serving can claim to be a “very good” or “excellent” source of fibre

Learn more about How to read Nutrition Facts labels

Fibre and diabetes

How much fibre do you need?

The Canadian Diabetes Association nutrition guidelines recommend that adults should consume 25 to 50 grams of fibre every day, and incorporate a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Here are some tips to increase your fibre intake:

  • Eat oatmeal, bran or another whole grain cereal for breakfast
  • Choose whole grain bread, pasta, cereal, crackers and rice
  • Add a small handful of almonds or other nuts to a salad
  • Use whole grain flour in homemade baked goods
  • Add barley, beans and lentils to soups and salads
  • Top yogurt or cereal with flax seeds
  • Eat the skins and seeds of vegetables and fruit

Check out our expert dietitian blog on healthier alternatives for diabetes meal planning.

About Diabetes Care

Diabetes Care Community is the author of articles on a wide range of diabetes topics. All of these articles are written to a high standard of quality. They are reviewed for accuracy with health care professionals and, wherever possible, will adhere to the Canadian 2013 Diabetes Clinical Practice Guidelines. It is our wish that you find our articles helpful. We welcome your feedback and comments.

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