Make a date of a different kind this February, as it’s time to talk about the ‘F’ word: Fibre. Find out if you are getting enough, check if you should be having it more often, and discover some tasty ways to enjoy more.
Throughout February we are celebrating fibre – highlighting why having it regularly is important, helping those who may be missing out and sharing some top tips to help you make the most of foods that contain fibre.
What is Fibre?
Experts say we should eat 30g fibre per day and that women in particular are most likely to need to increase their fibre consumption by up to 75%. Those on fad diets and avoiding basic foods like bread or cereals are particularly at risk of not eating enough fibre – yet the solution is easy and tasty too!Find out more >
Why do I need fibre?
Registered Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine explains why we need fibre. “Fibre is found in bread, wholegrains such as oats, as well as in fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses. Fibre is extremely important as it helps to keep our digestive systems and bowels working in addition to contributing to healthy cholesterol levels and promoting healthy gut bacteria. Specifically, fibre helps us to feel full and prevent constipation, and there is evidence to show that diets rich in fibre may help to reduce risk of colon cancer and cardiovascular disease too.”
Top 10 fibre facts
Dietary fibre has many health benefits
Dietary fibre can help prevent coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. A study of 40,000 women in the US found that increasing fibre consumption was more important in preventing cardiovascular disease than increasing consumption of other foods, such as fruit and veg.
Dietary fibre is important for digestive health
Digestive complaints such as constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn and bloating are very common and usually treatable with lifestyle measures such as increasing your fibre intake.
There are two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble
Both soluble and insoluble fibre are important for good health so you need to include both in your diet. Soluble fibre helps your body make poo, and insoluble fibre helps your body get rid of the poo.
Both men and women need to eat 30g of fibre a day
This means that on average men need to increase their fibre consumption by 50% and women by a staggering 75%.
Most children need to increase their fibre consumption by 50%
2-5 year olds should be eating 15g of fibre-a-day, 5-11 year olds 20g a day, 11-16 year olds 25g a day.
Dietary fibre can help with weight loss
Dietary fibre can help you feel fuller for longer so can help you maintain or lose weight.
Dietary fibre can produce ‘good bacteria’
Some types of fibre can be fermented by gut bacteria, producing substances that appear to be good for gut health. Providing ‘food’ for gut bacteria can also help increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Increase fibre consumption gradually
If you plan to increase your fibre intake, it is a good idea to it gradually, especially from foods providing insoluble fibre otherwise you may get stomach cramps. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids (8-10 glasses per day for adults).
Even white bread contains fibre
All bread and flour products contain fibre – just in different amounts. Two slices of the following breads contain, on average the following amount of fibre: regular white sliced bread 2.2g of fibre, high-fibre bread 5.2g, wholemeal 5.0g, seeded wholemeal around 11g per two slices.
Base all your meals on starchy carbohydrates
According to Public Health England and experts at the British Nutrition Foundation, in order to reach the 30g a day target for fibre we will need to base all our meals on starchy carbohydrates.
Here are some tasty ways you can enjoy fibre and ensure you are getting enough of the ‘F’ word. Remember, some high-fibre white breads contain as much fibre as wholemeal; and just two slices of seeded wholemeal toast can contain more than a third of you daily allowance.
Avocado on wholemeal toast
can provide nearly
16g of fibre
could deliver over
10g of fibre
Two chocolate digestives
1.5g of fibre