Dietary fibre is often known for its job to ‘keep things moving’ but in fact, this is just one of the many role’s it has within our body. Fibre is an essential component to not just a healthy gut, but a healthy body too. But you may be wondering, what is fibre and why is it so important?
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that unlike other nutrients, isn’t broken down in the small intestine. Instead, it makes it way into the large intestine to feed our gut microbiome (GM). Once the GM is nice and full, they begin to breakdown the fibre into three short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) – butyrate, propionate & acetate. Think of these SCFAs just like that over-achieving friend of yours, hearing about everything they get up to makes you feel exhausted. As well as keeping things regular, SCFAs also work to balance & regulate blood sugar levels, stimulate our immune system & the release of gut hormones, bulk out our poop, lower cholesterol levels, impact fatty tissue, assist our liver & brain and even reduce our risk of many chronic diseases. Need a little more convincing? Well, many powerful studies have shown that an additional 8 grams a fibre a day is associated with a 19% risk reduction for cardiovascular disease, 15% risk reduction for type 2 diabetes, 8% risk reduction for colon cancer and 7% risk reduction for all-cause mortality.
Despite alllllll these benefits, 71.8% of Australian adults are NOT meeting the Adequate Intake (AI) of fibre, which is 30 grams a day. Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you are one of those people, so listen up!
Sources of fibre
How can you up your intake of fibre if you don’t even know where to find it? We gut you. Great sources of fibre include beans, chickpeas, pears, cooked broccoli, tomato, pumpkin seeds, banana, baked sweet potato (with skin), oats, wholemeal pasta, bread (multigrain), almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, linseeds, quinoa, carrot (with skin), corn & apples.
But, how much should I have?
At each mealtime you should be having at least one portion of fibre-rich food. The best way to measure a portion? With your hands.
Vegetables = 2 handfuls
Fruit = 1 handful
Nuts & seeds = ½ handful
Wholegrains = 1 handful
Legumes = 1 handful
How to easily incorporate fiber into your meals & stay consistent
Forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t enjoy will actually do more harm than good so instead, try the following:
- Having a meal with mince? Start by replacing 1/3 of the mince with beans or legumes and gradually work your way to 1/2.
- Bulk up your sauces with foods like beans, legumes, carrots, tomato & onion.
- Craving a snack? Reach for ½ a handful of nuts & seeds or 1 handful of fruit. Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flaxseeds, linseeds, pears & bananas are our fav options.
- Don’t peel your sweet potato, or any vegetable for that matter. This is where the fibre hides!
- Enjoy toast or sandwiches? Replace white bread for wholemeal or multigrain. An extremely easy switch to make.
- Leave a glass jar of nuts & seeds on the kitchen bench and sprinkle these over meals. A very sneaky & effective way to get more fibre in.
Before you start, there are 3 things you should know
- Increase your water intake too – fibre can only do its thang’ when water is present, as it draws water in the large intestine. To ensure this can happen we recommend consuming at least 2-3 litres of water daily.
- Make it interesting – do us (and yourself) a favour and don’t force yourself to eat foods you don’t like. Consistency is key and doing this will have you back to old habits in no time. Spice up your cooking with yummy herbs & spices to make your meals irresistibly delicious.
- Hold up, slow down! – introducing more fibre is a pretty drastic change to your diet, meaning your gut could get a littleeeee overwhelmed. Too much, too quickly could result in unwanted bloating & gassiness. Slow & steady is the way to go!