Below is a short outline of what fibre is, sources of fibre and why increasing your fibre intake can be really beneficial.
Firstly, what is fibre?
Fibre is an essential nutrient in our diet that helps the normal functioning of the gut.
Dietary fibre is the edible parts of plants which keeps our digestive system healthy. Fibre doesn't get digested or broken down by enzymes in the small intestine but it is completely or partially broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. This means it helps the movement of other foods through and out of your body.
Sources of fibre rich foods?
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 much fibre should we eat?
Health benefits of fibre?
Normalizes bowel movements. Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and helps to prevent constipation. For example, fibre bulks up stools, makes stools softer and easier to pass and makes waste move through the digestive tract more quickly.
Helps control blood sugar levels
To lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and bowl cancer.
To help lower a high blood cholesterol level or high blood pressure.
How could you increase your fibre intake?:
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 fruit for dessert or a snack.
Fibre and good gut bacteria
It has been suggested that a fibre rich diet can help increase the good bacteria in the gut. Some fibre types provide a food source for ‘friendly’ gut bacteria helping them to increase and produce substances which are thought to be protective such as short-chain fatty acids.
So hopefully this has been helpful and click on Nutrition to find other info on macronutrients.