The chances are you are not, as the average person in the UK only consumes about 18g/day, which is 12g less than the recommended 30g/day. It’s not one of the sexiest nutrients to talk about and is often associated with bowel movements, but its health benefits are numerous.
So why’s it so important?
The beneficial effects of fibre include; helping to reduce cholesterol and the risk of diabetes, helping the gut work more effectively and helping control blood sugar levels and weight, as well as helping prevent some cancers and heart disease.
What are the best sources?
Fibre is only found in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, pulses and cereals. There are two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is broken down in the gut and these are found in fruit, vegetables, oats and golden linseeds. They provide food for the ‘friendly’ gut bacteria and help keep blood sugar levels stable and help reduce cholesterol. Insoluble fibre passes through the gut without being broken down so they help to keep the bowels working effectively. They are found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats, and in nuts and seeds.
Tips on increasing your fibre intake
Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
Include fibre rich foods at every meal
Choose brown, wholegrain, wholewheat, wholemeal and seeded varieties of bread, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals
Choose products with ‘high in fibre’ claims on the packaging
Eat fruit and vegetables with the skin on where possible (e.g. potatoes, pears, apples, cucumber etc.)
Have fibre rich snacks such as small portions of nuts and seeds, dried and fresh fruit and oat cakes and oat based cereal bars
Bulk out dishes with extra vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds
Make sure you also increase the amount of water you drink when increasing your fibre intake, and increase fibre gradually to reduce bloating and gas!