What is Fibre and Why is it Important?

Did you know that over 80% of adults don’t have enough fibre in their diet? Over the last few decades, the amount of fibre in the average diet has dropped by over 90%.  As carbohydrates have dropped out of fashion, with the rise of lower carb and higher fat diets, so have sources of fibre. 

If superfoods existed, fibre would be a strong contender – it’s cheap, readily available, really good for your health, and can aid weight loss. Here are the facts of fibre and how you can increase your intake of this super nutrient.

 

What is Fibre and Why is it Important?

  • Fibre is a complex carbohydrate.
  • There are two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both have different roles in digestion, but are equally important for your health.
    • Soluble fibre is dissolved in your stomach to form a gel, which helps to keep your stools soft. It can also help to lower blood cholesterol levels.
    • Insoluble fibre cannot be dissolved. It helps waste to move through your digestive system and keeps your bowels healthy.
  • It has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer
  • Helps provide prebiotics which keep your gut healthy
  • Aids with weight management and weight loss as fibre keeps you feeling full for longer than other nutrients.

 

Which foods contain fibre?

  • Fibre is only found in plant foods.
  • Soluble fibre is commonly found in the fleshy parts of fruit and vegetables, oats, beans and pulses.
  • Insoluble fibre (or roughage) is mainly found in wholegrains, fruit and vegetable skins, nuts and seeds. 
  • A high fibre food contains 6g+ per 100g, a low fibre food contains <3g per 100g.

 

How Much Fibre Do I Need?

  • The recommendation for the average adult in Ireland is 24-35g and in the UK is 30g of fibre per day.
  • The average fibre consumption on the island of Ireland is 20g; 23g for men and 17g for women.
  • The main sources of fibre are bread (31%) and potatoes (20%).

 

Is That Achievable?

Yes, if you eat a varied and balanced diet, with a little thought it is a very achievable target.

As always, variety is really important. Aim to get your fibre intake from as many different plant sources as possible, for example;

  • Instead of wheat biscuits (wheat) for breakfast a wrap (wheat) at lunch and pasta (wheat) for dinner (wheat)
  • Try porridge (oats) for breakfast, a wrap (wheat) for lunch and potato for dinner

Choosing different grains and a rainbow of colours of fruit and vegetables will provide you with a range of different vitamins and minerals, and benefit your gut bacteria too. 

 

Do You Have Any Tips?

  • Choose wholemeal or wholegrain options of bread, wraps pasta and cereals.
  • Add beans or pulses to soups, casseroles, salads, wraps and curries
  • Top your cereal with fruit, nuts or seeds
  • Leave the skin on fruit and vegetables, especially potatoes.
  • Look for high fibre cereals
  • Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice (juicing removes the fibre)
  • Increase your fibre intake gradually to allow your gut and gut bacteria to adapt
  • Drink plenty of water, aim for 8 glasses per day

 

Sources of Fibre

Food Portion Fibre Content (g)
Bran Flakes 40g 5.4
Wheat Biscuits 2 large 3.6
Oats 40g 6.4
Wholemeal Bread 2 slices (70g) 4.7
Rye Crackers 2 (20g) 4.0
Brown Rice 180g cooked 2.7
Baked Potato (with skin) Medium 4.7
Mashed Potato Medium 0.8
Baked Beans 80g 3.9
Chickpeas 80g 4.2
Kidney Beans 80g 6.0
Almonds 25g 2.5
Banana Medium (80g) 1.1
Apple Medium (80g) 1.0
Root Vegetables 80g 2.1-2.7
Peas 80g 4.5
Green Beans 80g 3.3

 

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