Why dietary fibre is so important
Monday, 9 March 2020 | Editor
What is fibre?
See fill range of fibre supplements here.
Dietary fibre is a term that is used for plant-based carbohydrates that, unlike other carbohydrates (such as sugars and starch), are not digested in the small intestine and so reaches the large intestine or colon.
* Fibre rich foods include:
* Wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye
* Fruit such as berries, pears, melon and oranges
* Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn
* Peas, beans and pulses
* Nuts and seeds
* Potatoes with skin
How does fibre benefit health?
Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and helps to prevent constipation.
The European Food Safety Authority says that including fibre rich foods in a healthy balanced diet can improve weight maintenance. Dietary fibre can reduce your risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and
- type 2 diabetes
Foods such as oats and barley contain a type of fibre known as beta glucan, which may help to reduce cholesterol levels if you consume 3g or more of it daily, as part of a healthy diet.
Fibre and good bacteria
Research has increasingly shown how important the bacteria in our gut may be to our health, and it has been suggested that a fibre rich diet can help increase the good bacteria in the gut. This is because fibre acts as a prebiotic, providing food for the good bacteria in probiotics. So, even if you opt to use probiotics to provide good bacterial to fight bad bacteria, it is still a good idea to increase your fibre intake
How much fibre do we need?
The UK government guidelines recommend that the population's fibre intake should increase to 30g a day for adults (aged 17 years and over). On average, we consume much less than this - about 18g per day. Children also need to increase their intake of fibre.
To increase your fibre intake you could:
- Choose a high fibre breakfast cereal e.g. wholegrain cereal like wholewheat biscuit cereal, no added sugar muesli, bran flakes or porridge. Why not add some fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds and/or nuts.
- Go for wholemeal or seeded wholegrain breads. If your family only typically likes white bread, why not try the versions that combine white and wholemeal flours as a start.
- Choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
- Go for potatoes with skins e.g. baked potato, wedges or boiled new potatoes – you can eat these hot or use for a salad.
- For snacks try fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts or seeds.
- Include plenty of vegetables with meals – either as a side dish/salad or added to sauces, stews or curries – this is a good way of getting children to eat more veg.
- Keep a supply of frozen vegetables so you are never without.
- Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.
- Have some fresh or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert or a snack.
There are also products specifically designed to provide you with the fibre you need:
Gut health is vital for general health and fibre plays a vital part in aiding probiotics, which in turn from part of your general health improvement, which will help protect you against the worst consequences many health conditions including all viruses. You can read the full article here.