Fibre is an important part of a person’s diet, and over the years eating plenty has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, and can help digestion and prevent constipation (a symptom of fibre deficiency). The UK government recommends we eat 30g of fibre a day, but unfortunately as a nation we fall far short with average consumption of just 18.5g a day.
In fact, only 5 per cent of adults consume the recommended level of dietary fibre.
Fibre can be obtained from a variety of sources, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, peas, beans, pulses, nuts and sees.
When it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner, Claire Barnes, nutritional therapist at Lepicol, offered Express.co.uk some ideas of what to eat to get your 30g of fibre a day. Here are three diet changes you can make.
Porridge is a great fibre-providing-breakfast, according to Claire, and you can add in mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts), a variety of seeds (flaxseeds, chia and pumpkin seeds) and top off with both fresh and dried fruits.
She added: “Make smoothies rather than juice to retain the fibre, aim to include vegetables such as kale, spinach and courgette and a dollop of nut or seed butter.”
You should make your lunch from scratch rather than rely on shop-bought food, said Claire.
She explained: “That way you have control over the amount of fibre you’re consuming.
“A quinoa or lentil salad with chopped up tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onions, beetroot, edamame beans, pine nuts and rocket sprinkled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar is easy to prepare in bulk and kept in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week as an easy lunch to take out or as a side in the evening.”
Vegetables should make up half the plate with each meal, said Claire.
She added: “Ideally swap to organic to avoid GM crops and reduce toxins from pesticides.
“Make soups and stews to cram in a wide variety of vegetables, you should also throw in some lentils and beans to increase the fibre types further.”
As well as increasing fibre in the diet through increasing vegetables, fruits and whole grains, Claire said a fibre supplement could also help gently and effectively increase fibre in the body.
She advised: “A high-fibre supplement such as Lepicol, containing psyllium (a gentle fibre), inulin (a soluble fibre) and five strains of live bacteria, can also help increase fibre while also balancing the gut flora and improving bowel motility.”
Types of fibre
There are two main fibre groups which can be split into soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water forming viscous gels; they stay intact through the small intestine, but then act as a food source for the bacteria in our large intestine.
Insoluble fibres are not water soluble, instead they bind water and increase stool bulk and reduce transit time. Most fibre containing food includes approximately two thirds insoluble and one third soluble fibres.
Within the two groups there are further categories.
Claire said: “For instance, we can break soluble fibres into beta-glucans which we can obtain from oats, peas and flaxseeds and help to moderate blood glucose levels, whilst another soluble fibre; inulin oligofructose can be found in onions and chicory root and helps to encourage a healthy gut microbial balance.
“This is why it is important to consume a wide variety of plant based foods in order to gain the health benefits of the different fibre types.”