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Are you getting enough fibre? Simple strategies to help increase your fibre intake.

Digestion, Diabetes, Heart, Constipation | March 4, 2020 | Author: Naturopath

heart disease, diabetes, Digestion

Are you getting enough fibre? Simple strategies to help increase your fibre intake.

Why is getting enough fibre important?. Some people may see fibre as an unpalatable, taste-less and an unimportant component in the diet. But this is where they are wrong. People who eat more dietary fibre has a lower risk of developing many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diverticular disease, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. As well as having a regular functioning bowel.  

A study commissioned by the World Health Organization, published online Jan. 10, 2019, by The Lancet, offers  evidence about why fiber is an important player in good health. Researchers combed through more than 240 studies and clinical trials and found that people who ate the most fiber-rich foods had the lowest risks for dying or developing chronic disease in an eight week study [1].

The suggested amount of fibre each day is 25 to 29 grams but eating more than 30 grams per day might offer more protection against developing chronic diseases. 

How fibre works How fibre works 

Undigested fibre passes through the digestive system absorbing water on its way and creating bulk which the muscles of the digestive track push through the eminatory system. 

Different types of fibres can work in different ways.

Some providing roughage to help give a thorough sweep, whilst others are good at absorbing fats and lipids to help lower cholesterol and support weight loss. 

Some are gentle and soothe an irritated digestive track from mouth to lower bowel (slippery elm and psyllium as examples).

Fibres can feed our internal symbiotic bacteria producing butyrate, one of the most important metabolites produced through gastrointestinal microbial fermentation, which in turn goes towards lowering the risk of some diseases. It is a good idea to add a variety of different fibres into your diet.

How can you increase your fibre intake?

Let’s look at a typical breakfast

It seems some people need a sugar fix first thing in the morning (along with the coffee fix), but let’s be serious, jam on white toast and chocolate cereals may give a good sugar kick and get you going, but as far as sustainability and fibre, they are often lacking. Simple changes can make big differences.

Change your bread. White toast to whole grain or whole meal you straight away increase your fibre intake. I know some folk don’t like whole grain or wholemeal, there are lots of variety available and variety is the spice of life. Try some different ones till you find one you like, or have one white and one wholegrain while you adjust.

Adding a fibre to your cereal. Some fibres supplements available have no taste so you can safely add them without spoiling the enjoyment. Wheat dextrin (commonly sold as benefibre) and inulin can be added to hot or cold beverages, foods and to cooking to help increase your fibre content.

  • Wheat dextrin
  • Inulin

Other fibres may make your shake or breakfast cereal thicken and may mean eating or drinking a little faster. Try using smaller amounts and adding to mashed vegetables or gravies. These include:

  • Psyllium (Metamucil, bonvit)
  • Slippery elm

Bran have been around for ages and can easily be included in meals. It is the outer layer of a grain offers a soluble fibre to keep the bowel functioning regularly and is pre-biotic for beneficial bacteria growth. Oat bran particularly is especially beneficial in its cholesterol lowering ability. It is available as beta-glucan.

How fibre works Add a new texture dimension. Try adding some fruit, berries, nuts and seeds (sunflower, pepitas, chia and linseeds for example). These can be added to a protein drink, cereal or yoghurt. If you really don’t want to change your chocolate cereal – just eat them later. Nuts and seeds can make a nutritious, fibre filled snack separately and are also available as a ready to eat nut and seed bars.

Choose whole grain where possible. Eating whole grain foods offers many health benefits such as a lower risk of developing CVD, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Look for whole grain cereals, breads and flours.

Lunch and dinners can be easy

Make a meal filled more with fibre simply by choosing whole grains over white options (flours and rices). Try using amaranth or quinoa as alternatives. Try mixing white rices with wholegrain for a gradual change (whole grains will need to be cooked longer). Look for other wholegrain suggestions in your supermarket. Rice also comes as an interesting wild variety which is tasty and adds a different visual and textural component to meals. 

Beans, legumes and lentils offer a rich source of fibre. Add them to your salad or meal or eat them on wholegrain toast (baked beans on toast). Chickpeas can be found in hummus.

Five vegetables a day. Count them out when preparing your meal. If lunch is low in vegetables make sure dinner is loaded and vice versa.

Fibre not only acts as a broom on your digestive system, but it can also satisfy hunger for longer. Fibre can help regulate blood sugar, beneficial for diabetes and pre-diabetes.

You don’t think you can add enough fibre to your diet?Two pieces of fruit - every day. Add some berries or a banana to your breakfast cereal or milkshake. Cut up rockmelon or orange to eat at work. Grapes are easily added to lunch boxes and watermelon makes an enjoyable weekend family treat. Take fruit to gatherings for everyone to enjoy instead of non-nutritional snacks. Eat an apple, banana or pear on the way home. Have fruit with your ice cream. Whatever works for you. Fruit contains fibre. Guavas, apples, pears, figs, apricots and nectarine offer high amounts of fibre.

An apple a day ….

You don’t think you can add enough fibre to your diet?

Well yes fibre does come in pill form. Slippery elm, psyllium (Metamucil, Bonvit), wheat dextrin (benefibre) are available in powder, capsule or tablet form.  Beta-glucan is available as chewable hearts.
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Give your system time to adjust. Too much fibre all at once when you are not used to it can cause some digestive distress so make changes gradually.

Drink more water. Some fibres rely on fluid to work best.

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References

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fiber-linked-to-lower-risk-for-chronic-disease-and-early-death

The Lancet: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/tl-pss011019.php

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

Fermentation profiles of wheat dextrin, inulin and partially hydrolyzed guar gum using an in vitro digestion pre-treatments and in vitro batch fermentation system model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23645025

Nondigestible carbohydrates, butyrate, and butyrate-producing bacteria. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30580556

British Dietetic Association evidence-based guidelines for the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22489905

Whole-grain foods and chronic disease: evidence from epidemiological and intervention studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26062574

A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health1,2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183591/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25351652-substitution-of-red-meat-with-legumes-in-the-therapeutic-lifestyle-change-diet-based-on-dietary-advice-improves-cardiometabolic-risk-factors-in-overweight-type-2-diabetes-patients-a-cross-over-randomized-clinical-trial/

Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22916806

Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939654

The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188421/

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