What Is Fibre?

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate which our digestive system is unable to breakdown and absorb. The reason for this is that our bodies don’t produce the enzymes required to digest the fibre.

There are two types of fibre, soluble & insoluble.

As the name suggests soluble fibre can dissolve in water. Once dissolved a gel is formed which helps keep stools softer and helps prevents constipation. Sources of soluble fibre:

  • - Grains (oats, barley and rye)
  • Fruits (bananas and apples)
  • - Beans (Black beans, kidney beans)
  • - Pulses (lentils, chickpeas)
  • - Root vegetables (carrots, potatoes)

Insoluble fibre helps substances that aren’t required by the body to pass through the digestive system more efficiently. Sources of insoluble fibre include:

  • - High fibre cereals (bran flakes)
  • - Wholemeal breads and pasta
  • - Nuts and seeds.
  • - Wholegrains (brown rice)
  • Vegetables, potatoes with skins.

The Benefits of a High Fibre Diet

High fibre diets are linked to a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes and obesity.

These benefits of a high fibre diet are not just the result of increased fibre intake. They are also due to the high fruit & vegetable consumption which is typically found in a high fibre diet. Therefore if you concentrate on increasing your fibre you will likely end up having a more nutritious diet all round with more vitamins and minerals.

How much Fibre should I eat?

The government guidelines on fibre as of July 2015 are that adults should consume 30g daily. However most people in the UK are not consuming enough fibre with the average daily intake being just 18g which is only 60% of what is recommended. Here are some ways in which you can increase your fibre intake:

  • - Snack on vegetables such as carrots or celery.
  • - Add beans and pulses to meals such as curries or stews.
  • - Swap white bread for wholemeal or granary.
  • - Eat wholegrain (brown) rice instead of white rice.
  • - Buy whole-wheat pasta rather than regular pasta.
  • - Have potatoes with the skin left on rather than mash or chips.
  • - Opt for high fibre cereals such as porridge oats or bran flakes.
  • - Fancy something sweet? How about some fruit and natural yogurt.