Although it’s my favourite nutrition-related topic, quite a few people don’t know the importance of dietary fibre. This is a problem in many countries where people do not consume nearly as much fibre as they should, as it is important for a healthy digestive system and has been linked to reduced cholesterol, improved glycemic control, a healthy heart, and reduced risk of some cancers. In the UK, the recommended daily fibre intake is 30 g/day for adults, however, the average fibre intake is around 18 g.
What is Dietary Fibre?
Dietary fibre is often associated with it’s old terminology- ‘roughage’. It refers to a group of substances in plant foods which cannot be entirely broken down by our digestive enzymes, thus pass through to the large intestine, where some types of fibre can be fermented by gut bacteria into short chain fatty acids and gases. Fibre includes waxes, lignin and polysaccharides such as cellulose and pectin.
Dietary Fibre & Health
Dietary fibre has been linked with improved colorectal health, blood glucose control, reduced chances of heart diseases and also aids in weight management! Fermentable fibre (most notably in oats) has also been shown to reduce LDL – the bad cholesterol, improving your overall blood lipid profile.
It takes much more time for your body to digest fibre when compared to simple carbohydrates, thus, inevitably, you end up feeling more energised and fuller for longer. Knowing that, surely, more people would aim to consume sufficient amounts of fibre on a daily basis.
Some people may find the recommended 30 g of fibre a day to be an easily achievable goal on a daily basis, however for those who are not used to choosing whole grains, vegetables and natural, whole foods- this daily recommendation can be daunting! But please, don’t fear. There are some easy ways to increase your fibre intake by making just a few simple swaps.
Easy tips to increase your fibre intake:
- Choose a high-fibre breakfast- Some great options are porridge, whole grain toast, or bran flakes to start your day. It will get your gut working and set your mind on the right track for the rest of the day.
- Wholegrain is your best friend- Swap out the white bread, pasta or wraps for wholegrain options as well as delicious brown rice, quinoa, lentils, bulgur wheat or barley. You can find them in any supermarket nowadays and use them as your carb choice for lunch or dinner!
- Eat your 5 a day– Fruits & vegetables are packed with fibre! And the more variety you have, the better for you too. Try and mix it up by having not only different types of fruit & veg, but also alternating between cooked and raw.
- Choose smoothies instead of juices- If you love your sweet juices in the morning, swap them for a homemade smoothie as juices are often packed with sugar and have all the fibre stripped out of them. With smoothies you will get the taste, the vitamins and minerals as well as the fibre- helping you maintain more stable blood-glucose levels.
- Top smoothies or smoothie bowls with nuts and seeds for an extra fibre boost- My favourites are Chia seeds, flaxseeds and peanut butter.
- Choose raw, whole foods- When doing your grocery shopping, aim to stock up on raw foods and skip on the processed ones. Processed foods are altered in some way or form, so try and opt for fresh ingredients to ensure the fibre in them is still in tact!
- Eat potatoes with skins- Some people are worried about potatoes as they think they’re packed with carbs, but they’re packed with amazing nutrients such as Potassium, Vitamin C, B6, folate and have loads of fibre!