HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIBRE RICH FOODS + TOP TIPS
How many times have you heard that we should cut out processed foods and increase real food like fruit and vegetables? I bet million times. One of the reasons behind it, is fibre.
Fibre is a non-digestible form of dietary carbohydrate that originates from plant-based foods. Many carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, while fiber is not. Instead, it passes through the body undigested. Dietary fiber is essential for homeostasis within the gut. The predominant health benefits extend to enhanced metabolic welfare, including protection against obesity and related metabolic diseases. People with high intakes of dietary fiber appear to have an exceptionally lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension, to name a few.
Fibre can be divided into soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water, creating a gel-like substance that ferments in the intestine, thus creating gas. It slows down the absorption of some nutrients (such as sugars and fat), helping to keep your blood sugar balanced and lowering cholesterol amount present in the blood. Soluble fibre also increases the number of friendly intestinal bacteria that help reduce inflammation and promote digestion. Insoluble fibre is the fibrous component of certain foods that our bodies cannot digest, however it has important functions too: it delays emptying of the stomach, facilitates food transit in the intestine and prevents constipation.
Diets have changed radically over the past few decades, with people consuming more ultra-processed foods void of dietary fiber. This lack of focus on the foods we eat has led to deficiencies in dietary fiber. The recommended daily fibre intake for adult females and males, according to the NHS, is 30 grams. Still, most Europeans consume less than half of those recommended minimum levels, which is comparable worldwide. Because fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping keep hunger and blood sugar in check, and helping feed the good bacteria responsible for multiple health benefits, it is essential for optimal healthiness and longevity.
We can get good sources of dietary fiber from the food we already eat, and we need to eat more of it. The best sources of fiber are nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. And because high-fiber foods are filling, they may help maintain weight and even aid weight loss. They are also generally a good source of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
TOP TIPS TO INCREASE FIBRE INTAKE
1.Swap fruit juices for whole fruit.
2.Swap your morning cereals for things like chia pudding, oats or eggs and veggies on wholegrain toast.
3.Swap white bread, pasta and grains for their brown and wholegrain versions.
4.Explore vegetarian meals rich in beans and legumes.
5.Try snacks made of fresh fruit, nuts or kale chips instead of crisps and chocolate.
6.When planning a trip to the supermarket, go with a shopping list and include fruit and vegetables.
Start with one point, something that is achievable and appealing to you. If you are currently not eating many of these foods, you should start to increase their amount in your diet very slowly and pair them up with an increased water intake to avoid any bloating and constipation. If you are not too sure about your current fibre intake, count how many times you poo on average. If it’s daily, you are in an excellent place but for less frequent evacuators, I advise increasing fibre by half portion every 5 to 7 days.
Remember that with certain medical conditions your fibre intake needs to be adjusted. In these cases, ask your medical practitioner for personalised advice.
Anderson, J.W. Baird, P. Davis, R.H. et al. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 67(4), pp.188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x. PMID: 19335713.
Barber, T.M. Kabisch, S. Pfeiffer, A.F.H. et al. (2020). The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients, 12(10), pp.3209. Published 2020 Oct 21. doi:10.3390/nu12103209
O’Grady, J. O’Connor, E.M. Shanahan, F. (2019). Review article: dietary fibre in the era of microbiome science. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 49(5), pp.506-515. doi: 10.1111/apt.15129. PMID: 30746776
Pereira, M.A. O’Reilly, E. Augustsson, K. et al. (2004). Dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164(4), pp.370-6. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.4.370. PMID: 14980987.