What’s the fuss about fibre?


What’s the fuss about fibre?

I’m sure you’ve heard that fibre is good for you, especially whenever it comes to looking after your gut. But why is that and what foods contain it? Keep reading to have all your fibre-related questions answered!

What is fibre?

Fibre is an essential part of a varied and balanced diet, yet many of us in the UK fall short of the recommended daily intake (30g). Shockingly, most adults barely reach 20g  a day.1

   

What does it do?

Fibre is without doubt a friend to the digestive system. It helps digestion, prevents constipation, and also provides a food source for our gut bacteria. Previously fibre was only thought to be important to keep our bowel movements regular but research has shown how its benefits extend far beyond that! Eating enough fibre is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even bowel cancer.2

Good sources of fibre

The terms ‘soluble fibre’ and ‘insoluble fibre’ describe the types of fibre in our diet. Most fibre-rich foods contain a mixture of both. Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forms a gel and helps you feel full (think of it like a sponge) whereas insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water, adds bulk and keeps things moving (think of it like a broom brush).

Fibre-rich foods include:

  • Wholegrain wonders: Breakfast cereals, bread, and pasta
  • Oats, barley and rye
  • Fruits e.g. figs, pears, prunes, berries and oranges
  • Vegetables e.g. parsnips, broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn
  • Legumes e.g. lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

What does 30g fibre look like?

Let’s break it down across a typical day to make this value feel less overwhelming!

BREAKFAST:

1/2 cup rolled oats (9g)

100g raspberries (5g)

LUNCH:

1/2 can baked beans (8g)

2 slices wholemeal bread (4g)

SNACK:

1 medium apple (4g)

Did you know?

Any food containing 6g or more of fibre per 100g is considered a high-fibre food. So why not check out food labels next time you’re at the supermarket?

TWO TOP TIPS

  1. Go low and slow: Gradually increase the amount of fibre in your diet to avoid side effects such as bloating and gas. These are completely natural as your body gets used to breaking down this extra fibre, but can be uncomfortable so opt for small dietary changes rather than a drastic overhaul. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach! Over time, as fibre intake and gut diversity increases, the gut microbiota (those trillions of microbes living in your gut) adapts to produce the hundreds of enzymes needed to breakdown the many different fibres and plant chemicals found in fibre-rich foods.3
  2. Hydration is key: Fibre has the ability to draw water into your digestive tract. Think of it as a friendly guide, ensuring everything moves seamlessly. This process softens and adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass. So, staying well-hydrated not only keeps you feeling refreshed but also facilitates the smooth journey of fibre through your digestive system.

Fibre inspiration

Check out some of our Love Your Gut recipes for more fibre inspiration!

Platter of roasted Mediterranean vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, tapenade, and pesto

Simple Red Lentil Dal

Greek Style Tomato and Bean Stew

One pot pasta & pearl barley bake with preserved lemon, capers & olives

 

References

  1. Public Health England (2020) NDNS: results from years 9 to 11 (combined) – statistical summary. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-9-to-11-2016-to-2017-and-2018-to-2019/ndns-results-from-years-9-to-11-combined-statistical-summary
  2. SACN (2015) Carbohydrates and Health. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-carbohydrates-and-health-report.
  3. Ioniță-Mîndrican et al. (2022) Nutrients, 14(13), p.2641

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