So, you have become an expert at counting your carbohydrates, sifting through the plant-based proteins and which fats are good for you. But maybe there is one nutrient you may have overlooked. Fibre plays an important role in the diet and is often not prioritised. Fibre provides many benefits, but a large proportion of our population are not getting in the recommended amounts.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH
On average adults are only eating 15 grams of fibre per day which is below the recommended minimum. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following intakes:
- 25 grams for women, or 21 grams if over 50 years old
- 38 grams for men, or 30 grams if over 501
Now you’re thinking you need to eat a “high-fibre” diet but it’s a lot simpler: you need to just eat more fibre. Fibre does so many things like contributing to weight loss and reducing the risk of disease. Let’s take a closer look.
WHY IS FIBRE IMPORTANT
Good gut health
One big health benefit of fibre is preventing constipation by giving regularity. Regularity can be defined as the regular (e.g. daily) elimination of bulky/soft/easy-to-pass stools. Dietary fibre can help reduce constipation by adding bulk to the stool. Bulky faeces move through the gut faster, resulting in improved regularity. Insoluble fibre also helps the stool to absorb water and therefore be softer.
While consuming the recommended daily intake of fibre is associated with numerous health benefits, no single fibre provides all benefits. A variety of fibres are needed every day for the body to function well.
Studies have linked a high-fibre diet with improvements in fat profiles in the body and this helps to reduce the risk and rate of heart disease. Apart from fats, studies have shown that fibre can also help with blood glucose regulation. Fibre decreases the glycaemic index of food making it absorbed much slower and this helps to reduce the sugar spike after eating carbohydrates. Other studies have also shown that the gel-forming fibres can help reduce fasting blood glucose in individuals that are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or being treated for type 2 diabetes.
Specific fermentable fibres have been shown to provide support for a healthy immune system. Two functions of fibre contribute to this. First fibre feeds the good bacteria, we call this type of fibre probiotics. Secondly fibre prevents the bad bacteria from sticking to the walls of the gut and helps flush them out of the system. A good balance of bacteria improves the immune function of the gut which is a major immune organ2.
HOW TO MAKE THE SWOP.
Somewhere along the line you have heard eat more fruits and vegetables and “high fibre” foods, but which foods are these? Let’s take a look at some simple swops to increase your fibre intake.
Make the swop from refined carbohydrates to high fibre carbohydrates. This is such a basic concept but many people get it wrong. You don’t need to move from a white bread all the way to a seed containing health loaf. The golden rule is “the browner the better”! As a general rule of thumb, the less processed a food is, the higher it will be in fibre.
So instead of a sugar-coated cereal, look for a fibre containing cereal such as FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes with Probiotic Sachet. Not only is the product high in dietary fibre but it also comes with HOWARU® Premium Probiotics which are the “good bacteria” for gut and immunity health.
Fruit and vegetables
Not all fruit and vegetables are equal. Get to know which has higher fibre content. Here are some examples:
- All fruit are a good, healthy choice but if you focus on fibre then for instance raspberries would be a better choice as compared to melon. 1 cup of raspberries has 8g of fibre, compared to melon which has only 1.4g of fibre per cup.
- When choosing a starchy vegetable to add on the side of your meal, go for peas if you want a high fibre option. While corn only has 2.9g of fibre in 1 cup, peas have 6g in a cup. Another quick tip is to always keep the peels on your potatoes and you’ll increase the fibre by 40%!4
What about snacks
We all love a good snack, these meals are a great opportunity to increase fibre intake. For instance instead of refined white crackers rather opt for high fibre flat biscuits. Popcorn is an awesome fibre packed snack option instead of that big bag of fatty crisps4.
Increasing your fibre intake can have many beneficial health effects and it’s a great addition to any diet. Do a little research on which are your best options to add in that extra amount of fibre and your tummy will thank you.