We have all heard about ‘fibre’, but do you really know what it is and why it is so important for our health? Dietary fibre is a part of plant foods that cannot be digested by the human body. It moves through our digestive tract helping to keep it clean and healthy. are two types of fibre, both of which are beneficial to our health.
- Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fibre include oatmeal, nuts, beans,, apples and blueberries.
- Insoluble fibre, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibre include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Benefits For A Diet High In Fiber-
- Keep us feeling fuller for longer, which reduces feelings of hunger.
- Keep our bowels regular, thus preventing constipation.
- Keep our bowels healthy.
- Help lower cholesterol levels.
- Help manage blood sugar levels.
- Help prevent some forms of cancer e.g. Colorectal cancer (bowel cancer).
- Helps improve weight maintenance.
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and type 2 diabetes.
Recommended Intake of Fibre
|(years)||intake of fibre|
|-5||g per day|
|-11||g per day|
|-16||g per day|
|and over||g per day|
Avoid peeling the skin of fruits and vegetables. E.g. Go for potatoes with skins e.g. baked potato, wedges or boiled new potatoes – you can eat these hot or use for a salad.
Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products. Go for wholemeal or seeded wholegrain breads. If your family only typically likes white bread, why not try the versions that combine white and wholemeal flours as a start.
Include breakfast – studies show that people who skip breakfast find it difficult to meet their fibre requirements. For breakfast, choose cereals that have a whole grain as their first ingredient.
Choose wholemeal pasta and brown rice. Choose fruit as a snack or dessert. Choose whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juices.
Add nuts or seeds to your breakfast cereals and smoothies. Add legumes to soups, salads, casseroles and dips or even to stews, curries and salads.
Choose a high fibre breakfast cereal e.g. wholegrain cereal like whole-wheat biscuit cereal, bran flakes or porridge. And for a bit extra fibre why not add some fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds and/or nuts.
Include plenty of vegetables with meals – either as a side dish/salad or added to sauces, stews or curries – this is a good way of getting children to eat more veges. Keep a supply of frozen vegetables so you are never without. Snack on raw vegetables instead of chips, crackers, or chocolate bars.
Remember, if you need to increase your fibre intake, it is a good idea to do so gradually. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids (around 6-8 glasses per day !for adults) and to try to be active for at least 150 minutes per week.