Dietary Fibre and Bowel Health


Dietary fibre is found in the parts of plants that cannot be digested. Fibre plays a role in keeping the bowel healthy by aiding in the elimination of waste efficiently and regularly. Maintaining bowel health is important as it can help to prevent constipation and diarrhoea, lower the risk of bowel cancer, haemorrhoids and incontenience, help the body to absorb nutrients more effectively, reduce the production of wind, bloating and indigestion and help improve mood and sense of wellbeing.


Why is fibre important?

  • Lowers blood cholesterol levels
  • Protective against weight gain
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer
  • Aids in blood glucose (sugar) management
  • Prevents constipation and haemorrhoids (need to ensure adequate water is consumed)



Fibre is more important in the elderly as the digestive system slows down with age – this, plus medication can lead to constipation and bowel problems


Ways to increase fibre intake:

  • Provide breakfast cereals that contain barley, wheat or oats
  • Switch to wholemeal or multigrain breads and brown rice where possible
  • Add an additional vegetable to the evening meal
  • Snack on fruit, dried fruit, nuts, vegetable sticks or wholemeal crackers
  • Add beans/legumes to meat dishes such as casseroles or bolognaise and salads


Types of fibre in food:

  1. Soluble Fibre
  • Maintains bowel regularity
  • Manages constipation and sometimes diarrhea by soaking up water in the gut like a sponge helping to bulk out faeces and allowing ease of passing
  • Can assist in lowering blood LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol)
  • Found in fruits and vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseeds, beans, lentils, peas

  1. Insoluble Fibre
  • Assists in effective elimination of waste and bowel regularity
  • Prevents constipation and associated complications, e.g. haemorrhoids
  • Found in wheat bran, rice bran, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, skins of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain foods