These are unprecedented times. The need to strengthen your immune system while protecting yourself from the virus outside cannot be overemphasized. The immune system is a complex and highly responsive network that defends the body against infections. It’s important to note that most of the factors that affect the system are not hard-coded in our genes but are influenced by lifestyle and the world we live in.
Recent research has shown that the gut microbiome plays an important role in the body’s immune response to infection and in maintaining overall well being. A healthy gut microbiome helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune over-reactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs as well as mount a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus.
Quality nutrition like eating a wide range of foods, which are high in fibre, and limiting processed foods including junk food is critical for a healthy gut microbiome, especially in times when the immune system might need to fight back.
Speaking of fibre, it is a type of a carbohydrate that helps keep our digestive systems healthy. Fibre helps to prevent constipation as well as offers a prolonged feeling of fullness, which helps prevent overeating.
Fibre-rich foods typically contain both soluble and insoluble types of fibre. To ensure an adequate fibre intake, aim to include the below mentioned foods.
We can comfortably say rice is one of the most consumed fibre foods in Nigeria and the world over. The staple cereal grain offers a lot of benefits including being a rich source of fibre. Most refined rice has almost all of their fibre removed, however, some rice are still a great source of insoluble fibre which prevents constipation, eg brown rice.
Rice offers a lot of health benefits due to the presence of many beneficial nutrients. They also provide the body with energy due to their high carbohydrate content.
Maize or corn is another cereal crop widely consumed in Nigeria. It is a rich source of fibre and many other important nutrients that promote the overall health of the body and aid in many body functions.
Maize can be consumed after boiling/roasting or it can be used to make popcorn. Maize is also low in calories which make it a great food choice for those that are trying to lose weight.
Beans also classified as legumes are a great way of loading up on fiber and plant-based protein. Beans can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, prevents constipation and aids in digestive health.
Abacha ncha is mostly consumed by the Igbos of the Southeastern part of Nigeria. It consists of more than 90 percent of fibre as its nutritional value. It is made from dried cassava and prepared with lots of spices and vegetables. This nutritious meal easily fills the stomach and makes you feel fuller for long periods due to its high fibre content.
Spaghetti is a type of pasta and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It is also a great source of fibre, however, the amount of fibre you get will depend on the type of Spaghetti.
Whole-grained spaghetti is usually the best option as it has more nutrients, fibre and contains smaller amount of calories. Refined spaghetti, on the other hand, contains a larger amount of calories and has many of the nutrients removed or reduced. These removed or reduce nutrients include its fibre content.
Carrots are one of the most beneficial root vegetables. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals (mostly potassium), antioxidants and fibre. Carrots can be consumed raw or combined with other types of food.
Carrots aid in digestion, reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and improve eyesight. While eating carrots raw is the most common way to consume it, you’re better off cooking the vegetable. This way, it releases more nutrients and which are easily assimilated into the body.
Apples are one of the most fibre which offers a lot of health benefits to the body.
They also contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that reduce the risk of developing diseases like cancer, diabetes and promote heart health.
The presence of a high amount of fibre in apples promotes digestion and prevents stomach disorders.
Banana is an edible fruit packed with a lot of nutrients. Ripe banana is a rich source of fibre, however, unripe banana offers something even more. Unripe banana contains a significant amount of resistant starch that is indigestible in the gut and functions like fibre.
Apart from dietary fibre, banana is a rich source of nutrients like potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate, protein, and vitamins, which numerous health benefits for the body.
Sweet potatoes are one of the best options for high-quality fibre. They contain more fibre and natural sugars than regular potatoes. They also offer fewer calories which makes them a great food for weight loss.
The fibre in sweet potatoes helps prevent constipation and aid in other digestion processes.
Sweet potato is also a source of many other beneficial nutrients like calcium, iron, selenium, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Oats are a cheap and simple way to boost your fibre intake.
Whether you choose the quick-cooking variety, rolled oats or steel cut, they make a satisfying breakfast, they’re economical and are 100 percent whole grain.
Avocados are rich in fibre content. It’s indigestible plant matter can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases. Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat. They also contain more fibre than many options on our list. Avocado is often referred to as a superfood due to its health properties.
Avocados can be consumed raw or combined with other foods.
If you thus need to increase your fibre intake, it is a good idea to do so gradually.