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WHY YOU SHOULD EAT MORE FIBRE

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f you have ever been on a diet or tried to eat well, then you have probably heard about fibre. Most of us know we are supposed to have it as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, knowing what it does but more importantly were to get it is were most people stumble. Fear not, by the end of this article both questions will have been answered.

Dietary fibre also known as roughage, is a term used to describe a type of carbohydrate specifically plant-based carbohydrates. Unlike carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, fibre is not digested in the small intestine and so reaches the large intestine or colon. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. What is the difference between the two? Soluble fibre dissolves in water and includes plant pectin and gums (found for example in foods like fruit and oats). Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. It includes plant cellulose and hemicellulose (found for example in wholegrains and nuts). Most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, but in different amounts.

Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and helps to prevent constipation. For example, fibre bulks up stools, makes stools softer and easier to pass and makes waste move through the digestive tract more quickly. Research suggests that fibre may help to protect against bowel cancer. This maybe because fibre helps move stool faster through the gut, so the amount of time waste products (toxins) stay in contact with the bowel is reduced.

Many studies have shown how important the bacteria in our gut may be to our health. The gut – brain relationship is a fascinating topic. It has been suggested that a fibre rich diet can help increase the good bacteria in the gut. Fibre can act as a food source for the ‘good bacteria’ in our guts. These types of carbohydrates are also known as pre-biotics.

Fibre is also known to keep us fuller for longer. This can be helpful when on a ‘diet’ and satiety is an issue.

For the average adult in the UK, the government recommendations are 28 – 30 g of fibre per day. Did you know on average most people get about 18 grams per day. So clearly, we all need to work hard to increase our fibre intake.

It is important to note that if you want to increase your fibre intake you should do it gradually. Sudden increases could cause you to feel bloated and even cause stomach cramps. Additionally it is important to drink plenty water when you are increasing your fibre intake.

Here is a list of top 10 foods that are high in fibre:

1. Oats – 10.1 grams per 100 grams

2. Popcorn – 14.4 grams per 100 grams

3. Chia seeds – 34.4 grams per 100 grams

4. Dark chocolate – 10.9 grams per 100 grams

5. Almonds – 13.3 grams per 100 grams

6. Split peas – 8.3 grams per 100 grams

7. Raspberries – 6.5 grams per 100 grams

8. Avocado – 6.7 grams per 100 grams

9. Lentils – 7.3 grams per 100 grams

10. Kidney beans – 6.8 per grams per 100 grams

Now we know a few foods that are higher in fibre here are some suggestions on how to increase your fibre intake :

  • Choose high fibre breakfast cereal e.g. wholegrain cereal

  • Opt for wholemeal or wholegrai breads

  • Choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, brown or bulgur wheat

  • When eat baked potatoes, wedges or new potatoes alsop have the skin

  • Include plenty of vegetables in main meals

  • Avoid peeling the skin on certain fruit and veg e.g.apples, pears

  • Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads

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