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Vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes (beans, peas and lentils – including dried forms, which are called pulses) are high in fibre. Fibre-rich foods can help you feel full and satisfied. Fibre has several effects on the gastrointestinalgastrointestinalReferring to or having to do with the digestive organs, particularly the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. tract that help keep the digestive system healthy and your bowels regular. Fibre increases the bulk of stools and speeds up the movement of food through the colon. This can reduce the absorption of possible carcinogenscarcinogensAny substance that is known to cause cancer. by the lining of the colon. High-fibre foods are also low in fat and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Fibre and cancer

Eating plenty of fibre can help you maintain a healthy body weight, which reduces your risk of cancer. Research shows that a diet high in fibre protects against colorectal cancer.

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How much fibre?

It is generally recommended that adults get about 21–38 grams of fibre each day for good health. How much you should have is different depending on your age and sex.

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Reducing your risk

Choose a variety of high-fibre foods. Nutrition labels show how much fibre is in a food. A high-fibre food has at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Drink extra fluids when adding more fibre to your diet. Fibre and fluids work together to help maintain a healthy colon.

  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit each day. Many vegetables and fruit are good sources of fibre.
  • Eat 6 to 8 servings of grain products each day if you are an adult. The recommended number of servings per day is different depending on your age, sex and how active you are.
  • Choose foods made with whole grains rather than foods made with refined white flour. A serving of a grain product with whole grain is:
    • 1 slice (35 g) of bread
    • 1/2 (35 g) pita
    • 125 mL (1/2 cup) cooked pasta, rice or couscous
  • Look at the ingredients list rather than the colour of the foods. Some brown bread is simply white bread coloured with molasses. The first ingredient should be a whole grain such as whole grain wheat, oats, whole grain corn, barley or brown or wild rice.
  • Try different breads including whole grain, multi grain, chapattis, whole wheat pitas, bagels, roti and tortillas.
  • Go for bran or whole grain breakfast cereals or mix some in with your favourite cereal or on top of low-fat yogurt.
  • Choose oatmeal more often. It’s a great warming winter breakfast.
  • Try different grains such as whole wheat couscous, bulgur and cornmeal.
  • Swap whole wheat pasta for regular pasta for a change.
  • Bake with whole wheat flour. You can substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour in most recipes. For example, if your recipe calls for 250 mL (1 cup) of flour, you can use a half-cup of white and a half-cup of whole wheat flour.
  • Eat a baked potato with the skin on instead of mashed potatoes. Or leave the skin on when you boil potatoes for mashing.
  • Add legumes such as beans or lentils to your soups, casseroles, stews and curries.
  • Try chickpeas in salads, lentils in meatloaf or kidney beans in burritos.
  • Serve hummus as a high-fibre dip with vegetables and whole wheat crackers instead of doughnuts or cookies at workplace meetings.
  • Snack on dried fruit, nuts and seeds mid-afternoon or add them to yogurt.
  • Add raisins and nuts to bread or muffin recipes.

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A helping hand for families

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The Canadian Cancer Society helps with expenses for children in cancer treatment and their families.

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