Fibre it up!

What if I told you that focusing on increasing intake of this particular foodstuff in your daily diet, you can achieve a multitude of short and very long-term benefits… and it is quite easy to do!

If those short and long-term health benefits included conditions like constipation, diabetes, diverticular disease and even heart disease, would you consider focusing on seriously including loads of it in your daily diet?

What is the foodstuff with this kind of superpowers? It’s the humble fibre or roughage, as you might want to call it. The required amounts needed to reap these benefits have not been stressed strongly enough and generally almost everyone here in the UK could do with a little bit more.

Fibre is a type of superbly important carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Although most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fibre cannot be broken down in the body into sugar molecules, but instead it passes through the body undigested.

Why do you need to have it then, if you can’t digest it?

Fibre helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fibre per day to achieve good health, but most Brits get only about 14 grams a day.

It comes in two varieties, both beneficial to health. There is soluble fibre, which dissolves in water. It can help lower blood glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Here are a few foods to include in your daily diet that are rich in soluble fibre; oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.

The other variety of fibre is called insoluble fibre. It does not dissolve in water but can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and therefore helping to prevent constipation. So why not add these insoluble fibre rich foods as a staple in your diet; for example, whole wheat products, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Overall, the top sources of fibre are whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Some tips that could help you increase your fibre intake:

  • Eat fruits whole instead of drinking fruit juices

  • Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with darker, whole grain products

  • As breakfast, choose whole grain cereals or at least the ones that have a whole grain as their first ingredient

  • Snack on raw vegetables instead of processed foods (add a spicy dip or refreshing tzatziki to smooth them down)

  • Substitute meat two or three times a week for beans or legumes in chilis, stews and soups

Despite both types of fibre being super good for you, when you are changing habits, make sure you go slow. So just as a reminder, if you suddenly realise you’ve been really lagging behind on the fibre intake recommendations, don’t change that overnight. Instead, give yourself about a month to incorporate enough fibre (preferably 30g) into your daily diet and remember to drink water!

Ps. You can usually find the fibre content on the food labels at the back of the product you are buying. To make reaching recommended amounts easier, ensure the products you are buying contain more fibre than 2-3g per serving.

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