Yesterday was World Digestive Health Day, so the perfect opportunity to talk Fibre (not that I need any excuse). It was recently described as the new superfood, and although i don’t particularly like that term, it is pretty super!
There are two types of fibre you should have in your diet, soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre dissolves in the intestines and helps food move along the digestive tract. Insoluble fibre moves through the intestines without being absorbed, adding bulk to bowel movements, helping to reduce constipation.
The emerging research regarding fibre and its wide range of health benefits is fascinating. A huge study earlier this year confirmed its importance in the body, from reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and weight loss to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and early death.
However, despite this, the majority of us only achieve around 18g of fibre a day – far off the 30g that’s recommended. We get fibre from unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. Although most of our plates are lacking these foods, it is pretty easy to reach 30g with some simple changes to your diet.
Oats are high in soluble fibre and porridge could provide you with around 10g if you choose the right toppings. I add half a banana and a handful of nuts to create a quick and tasty breakfast. You can also prepare the night before and leave in the fridge overnight – hence the name “overnight oats”.
Avocado & Egg on Toast
This breakfast provides 12g of fibre, so you’re already over a third of the way there! Opt for wholemeal bread when you can as it has more than double the amount of fibre compared to white bread.
A high fibre breakfast that can provide around 10g of fibre if you add the right stuff! It’s easy to make in bulk ready for you to add milk or yoghurt in the morning when you wake up. Get creative by adding dried fruit such as apricots, mixed nuts, seeds and porridge oats.
Jacket Potato and Baked Beans
This meal has about 10g of fibre so you can’t go wrong with jacket potato and baked beans for a high fibre lunch. Choose baked beans that are low in salt and sugar and if you do add cheese, try and stick to the 30g recommended portion of cheese to limit your saturated fat intake.
5 Bean Burrito
I love burritos and if you choose wholegrain varieties for the wrap and rice, along with veggies such as peppers and onions, you could be exceeding half your recommended intake of fibre in just one meal! Add the mixed beans and some fajita spice to create the perfect burrito. Grated cheese on top is optional and a side of homemade guac can add even more fibre!
Adding lentils or beans to any soup can really boost the fibre and red lentils can be used to make the soup a little thicker. Chuck a load of vegetables in as well for more fibre that will also contribute to your 5-a-day. Serve with wholemeal bread.
I thought I’d throw in a pasta dish as they are just so easy, especially when you’re cooking for a few people or bulk cooking for the week ahead. Wholewheat pasta is always the best variety when looking to increase your fibre consumption. For the meat sauce, use half mince and half lentils. This adds more fibre to the dish and is also better for the planet.
Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Spinach Curry
Curries are a perfect way to experiment with cooking. This is one of my favourite combinations that provides over a third of your recommended fibre when served with wholegrain rice. I add garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin for flavour and tinned tomatoes and coconut milk for a nice creamy sauce.
Burger & Sweet Potato Wedges
Again, i’m keeping it simple and showing how easy it is to get more fibre in your diet by making small changes. Choose a wholemeal bun, keep the skin on your sweet potatoes and even have a side of homemade guac to really boost your fibre intake. If you opt for a bean or lentil burger, thats more fibre still – but if its shop bought, be sure to check salt content as vegan/vegetarian ready prepared food is quite often high in salt!
You should be getting your fibre from a range of different sources, so mix it up a bit by introducing more wholegrain cereals, beans & pulses, nuts & seeds, fruit & vegetables – variety is key!
If you’re new to the fibre bandwagon and have started to increase your consumption, its important to bear in mind that its something your gut needs to get used to. It’s therefore recommended that you increase fibre into your diet slowly and gradually to reduce excess gas and added pressure on your gut walls – which may result in pain and discomfort.
It could take weeks or months, but as fibre has so many functions and health benefits, that are based on legit evidence, bear with your gut and hopefully you’ll soon be reaching your 30g a day!