Roughage – are you getting your fill? The NHS suggests 30g of fibre per day, yet most UK adults only manage to consume between 15-18g!¹
Why is this? The Western diet is commonly blamed for our poor intake of fibre, thanks to the large number of refined foods that are easily accessible, but additionally, low-carb diets (keto/paleo) and even the popular rise of gluten-free foods, which tend to have less fibre, have been associated with the fact that we’re falling short on our daily recommended intake of fibre.
Fibre isn’t just responsible for softening your stools, adding bulk and preventing constipation. A high-fibre diet can also support your liver, help keep you full and energised, reduce the risk of diabetes and even cardiovascular disease.
One of the most important benefits of fibre is its role in our gut health. Insoluble fibre, that which makes its way pretty undigested to the small intestine, actually feeds our gut bacteria (collectively known as our gut microbiome) and helps them to flourish and thrive! A healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive system can contribute to everything from weight management, energy, hormone balance, mood and more.
HOW DO WE GET OUR RDI OF FIBRE?
Low and Slow. Filling your digestive system with a large amount of fibre could do more harm than good, leaving you feeling bloated and may trigger flatulence. It’s also important to stay hydrated to help fibre to pass through your system. If you notice that eating fibre rich foods triggers digestive upset, I suggest working with a practitioner to rule out any underlying issues that might be at play such as SIBO.
Beans are a fantastic source of fibre and also provide us with a source of plant-based protein and vitamins. Plus, they are long-life food choices (great for store cupboard safekeeping) and can be thrown into many dishes! My top five fibre rich bean options: Haricot beans, Adzuki beans, Red Kidney beans, Pinto beans and Black Beans. Try making a chilli using beans or whip up some black bean burgers.
First things first, don’t waste the skin. The skin on our veg and fruits is packed with fibre and nutrients.
Some veggies pack more than others, and the top fibre-filled veg include: artichoke, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, okra and cabbage. Steam lightly (if you steam them to a mush they lose some of their fibre and taste!) rather than bake to oblivion to keep the nutrients.
REACH FOR FIBRE RICH WHOLEGRAINS
Swapping foods made from white refined flours for wholegrain alternatives can help boost your intake, without having to add anything additional to your plate! Swap white pasta to whole-wheat varieties ( I love Biona), white rice for brown/black/wild rice and white bread for ryes/pumpernickel and whole-wheat varieties. And for breakfast? Add oats. Fibre found in oats can contribute to the reduction in cholesterol, reduced blood sugar levels and can help feed our friendly bacteria that reside in the gut!
GET SEED FRIENDLY
When it comes to fibre, seeds are an easy win. In particular, chia seeds and flax seeds are winners. One tablespoon of chia seeds provides 5g of fibre, so whip up a chia seed pudding or sprinkle on your salads for a fibre boost.
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses! Not only are they filled with fibre, but they are also a source of healthy fats, protein and nutrients! It is best to eat nuts in their whole form to get the full fibre fun, so, unfortunately, your nut butter addiction might need to be swapped out for the whole nutty goodness. At the top of the fibre-nut league, you can find chestnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios. A cupped handful of nuts (30g) will give you close to 5g of fibre. Try out Clarissa’s Coconut Granola for a delicious nut-filled breakfast.