The truth is, most of us aren’t getting enough fibre in our diets. The average person consumes just 18g of fibre a day - the reality is that we need at least double this amount.
What exactly is Fibre and why should I be eating more?
Fibre is a carbohydrate found exclusively in foods that come from plants. Your body can’t digest dietary fibre - and that’s exactly why it plays such an important role in digestion.
Most whole foods contain two type of fibre; soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a ‘gel’ that helps slow down digestion. It can be found in grains, fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses
Insoluble fibre adds bulk and helps food move through your digestive system more quickly. Foods high in insoluble fibre include wholegrains, nuts, seeds and vegetables with skins
How does Fibre keep me healthy?
Fibre does a lot more than just help food move through your system. Some more amazing benefits it brings are:
Lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer
Helps control blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar
Normalises bowel movements and maintains bowel health
Lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure
Increases satiety, keeping you fuller for longer
Aids in weight management, as it is typically found in ‘energy dense’ foods
Lowers the risk of hemorrhoids, gallstones and kidney stones
Feeds microbes in the gut, helping to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation
Does that mean bran flakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Absolutely not! Most plant-based foods contain good amounts of fibre and can be easily incorporated into your everyday diet.
Here are a few easy ways you can bulk your meals and snacks out with fibre:
Swap white, refined grains for wholemeal products, such as bread, rice and pasta
Start your day with a bowl of porridge with fruit
Add chia seeds, flaxseed or whole food flours to your morning smoothie or yoghurt
Replace meat with beans or lentils in curries and stews
Keep the skins on your fruit and vegetables
Add an extra portion vegetables to your meals - mix into grains or make your own chunky sauces
Snack on nuts, crudites and houmous, and edamame beans
Take note - adding too much fibre to your diet too quickly can lead to digestive discomfort. Increase the amount you eat gradually to allow the natural bacteria in your digestive system adjust to the change. And make sure you drink plenty of water!