04/17/2012 09:26 EDT | Updated 06/17/2012 05:12 EDT

My All-Time Favourite Big F-Word


We just aren't getting enough of it.

And the bottom line is we need it in our lives.

As a matter of fact, most of us are getting so little of it, we're crabby, tense, and our health is suffering.

To make matters more complicated there are two types of it. One that keeps things moving and the other one that helps lower your blood pressure. Yup, you guessed it or not; good old reliable fibre is my all-time favourite Big F-word.

Fibre comes in two forms -- insoluble and soluble. Both play important roles in keeping your GI (gastrointestinal) tract and your heart happy campers. And trust me, an unhappy GI will make your life miserable, and an unhappy heart can kill you.

Insoluble fibre doesn't easily dissolved in water. It actually holds water keeping all that digested food moving through your GI, cleaning your colon on the way. Think whole grain whole wheat and wheat bran.

Soluble fibre does dissolve in water and as a result helps regulate digestion, helps lower cholesterol, and helps stabilize blood glucose levels. It's the reason that oatmeal is getting all the press these days -- whole oats has it, so does barley, apples, beans, and eggplant.

Most of us know that without enough fibre you can get constipated. Too much fibre without enough liquid and the end result is exactly the same, constipation. Aim for a balance of fibre plus enough liquids to keep everything moving. Throw in some exercise and you have the recipe for ARGBM success (acronym for A Really Good Bowel Movement).

If you're not eating seven to 10 servings of fruits and veggies every day, adding whole grains to your diet, and drinking enough liquids, you're heading for trouble.

Here are some fibre tips:

• Aim for seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I like to eat three to four fruits, as in the whole fruit not the juice, and four to six servings of veggies, both raw and cooked every day.

• Eat oats -- better yet, try oat bran cereal. The soluble fibre can help lower your cholesterol. Here's a recipe that contains large flake oats, steel cut oats and oat bran that is great for breakfast the days you are rushing out the door.

• Try adding ground flaxseed or chai seeds to your yogurt, cereal, or mix with some peanut or other nut butter. Flaxseed has to be ground to get all the benefits it has to offer, chai seeds are porous enough so you don't have to grind them.

• For the equivalent of a fibre bomb, adding psyllium to your diet will really keep things moving and lower your cholesterol at the same time. Here's a recipe for high-fibre muffins that uses whole psyllium husks.

• Whole grains like barley, brown rice, kamut, spelt, and quinoa (which is a seed, not a whole grain) are all making comebacks, and for good reason. The people who eat whole grains instead of refined grains are usually healthier and thinner than refined grain eaters.

• Drink water. Bye-bye pop! The research is mixed on exactly how much water to drink, but the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 8 glasses of combined liquids.

Bottom line, make nice with your colon and your colon will send you a very nice thank you note every day.

For more healthy info and recipes check out Mairlyn's website.