5 reasons to get more FIBRE into your diet?

Fibre belongs to the carbohydrates nutrient group. So that means that plants are the only foods that give us dietary fibre. But fibre, unlike sugars and starch don’t get broken down in the small intestines for glucose absorption, aka energy production, they carry on down undigested to the lower intestines where all the good fibre work happens. Our gut microbes are waiting for this bacteria and its the byproducts of the interaction between the bacteria and fibre that we gain our health benefits. This interaction can be referred to a fermentation of fibre in the gut producing compounds called short-chain fatty acids1. Dietary fibre is broken into two groups, insoluble and soluble fibre. Soluble fibre impacts digestion by feeding the bacteria and in turn positively affects your blood sugars and cholesterol. Insoluble fibre absorbing water, which help move things along in a nice bulky fashion in your lower intestines.

Here’s a nice article to read through about fibre

Why do we need it?

1. Maintains a healthy function bowel, reducing episodes of constipation and diarrhoea and risk of other complications like diverticular disease, IBS and more.

2. Contribute to balancing blood sugars as it doesn’t need insulin to break it down which means it moderates glucose and insulin responses after meals. Phytochemical’s in legumes have also been shown to moderate glucose2.

3. Supports appetite regulation and weight control. Simply put foods higher in fibre have a lower GI which means they are less energy dense. Therefore it means you can eat a higher volume of a salad with grains for the same amount of calories as a slice of cake. So you tend to eat a better quality diet without any need for ‘exclusion’ or restriction.
4. May improve cholesterol as it is thought it binds with bile in the intestines which prevents the reabsorption of cholesterol. The work is in its infancy but some studies have show a modest result in LDL reduction through the consumption of high fibre foods like oats, bran and barley.
5. Support immune system and hormone release. 80% of our Immune System is thought to reside in the GUT, and while we aren’t fully sure of how this interaction works, there is significant evidence to support the idea that our GUT is our second brain3. So what you’re feeling in your GUT might be emulated in your BRAIN. By feeding the gut plenty of antioxidant rich foods packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemical, you are supporting your immune system and improving your mood.

So armed with that insight, where are you going to search for your fibre everyday?

• Whole-grains in breads, pastas and cereals.
• Other grains like rice, barley, oats and bran.
• Gluten-free grains like buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff
• Fruit and vegetables
• Legumes – peas, beans and lentils
• Nuts and seeds

How much is enough?

Here at Ciall Health, we prefer not to talk to bring fear into food by promoting weighing scales. In general if you are eating a healthy balanced diet then you will be getting sufficient nutrients. Though it is hard to ignore the claims that most Irish adults are deficient in fibre4. The current guidelines suggest 30g per day of fibre.

What that translates to in food terms equates to about 5/6 portions of veg per day, 2 portions of fruit, a wholegrain element for each of your meals along with a portion of nuts & seeds. Seem achievable?

When you begin to think of your daily intake in terms of the food plate which is largely based on the Mediterranean Diet, the most studied diet with the best health outcomes.

Using the food plate as a guide you can take the number work out of it and eat by visually balancing the portions on your plate.

5 quick tips ways to increase your fibre…

1. Add a grated apple and a handful of nuts and seeds to your porridge. Keep the skins on as this holds the most insoluble fibre.
2. Add in red lentils to any of your usual soups you make. Use red lentils as they have less of an impact on taste.
3. Add 4 veggies to your lunchtime sambo, why not have sourdough for extra fibre?
4. Making lasagne, use spinach as one layer instead of pasta. Don’t think of it as low-carb, think of it as high fibre.
5. Like baking, consider using mixed flours. Almond flour is super in baking, really gives you a moist cake that you can enjoy for days.

Check out this recipe by Ottolenghi

References:

Eat yourself Helathy, Dr Megan Rossi pg 46
The Psychobiotic Revolution Mood, Food and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection. Pg 177
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