How much fibre do you need?September 2018
Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Sydney, Mona Vale
You see the ads on TV promoting fibre to help with bowel movements, but do you actually know how much you need each day? Fibre is found in the structural walls of plants, it is indigestible by your body but that’s the beauty of it and where its benefits lay. Fibre is a form of carbohydrate that keeps our digestive system healthy, and comes as three different types; soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.
Soluble fibre helps to slow the emptying of the stomach, lower cholesterol and stabilise your blood sugar. This kind of fibre is found fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes.
Insoluble fibre absorbs water like a sponge, which works to soften and support your bowel movement, making your bowel a healthy environment. Those benefits are particularly important if you’re trying to lose weight, or bring some balance back your hormones. Insoluble fibre is found in wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat bran and the skin of fruit and vegetables.
Resistant starch assists in the production of good bacteria in the large intestine, it acts like food for the bacteria, which improves bowel health. Resisitant starch is found in under ripe bananas and cooked and cooled potato and rice.
What is the benefit of fibre?
It keeps you regular – this is probably the most well know benefit.
Gut health – it supports healthy digestion and feeds good bacteria.
Supports healthy weight – it makes you feel full, so you’re less likely to overeat.
Manages blood sugar – it slows digestion of carbohydrates which helps to regulate bloog sugar levels.
How much do you need?
Adult women need 25g per day (men need 30g). The sad reality is, many women aren’t hitting these daily targets. The more processed food we eat, the less fibre we eat. Think about the meals you ate today, did you eat the minimum and hit the government guidelines of 5 vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit? 5 and doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re only have veggies or a salad at dinner and the rest of the day is processed foods, you may not be reaching your daily needs. Click here for a simple PDF showing different foods and how much fibre is within.
Calculate how much fibre you ate today
Write down all the foods you have eaten today and then compare to the table. Now be careful, this table compares all foods per 100g. It would be hard to eat 100g of wheat bran, but to fairly compare different foods they need to be the same weight.
So how did you go? Did you have 25g of fibre? Pretty scary right…
How to increase your daily intake?
The simplest way to increase your daily intake is to eat more fruit and vegetables. 5 and 2 should be a minimum. When I work with clients, I encourage them to have at least 3 vegetables with each meal. Then snack on fruit during the day. If you’re trying to get your blood sugars under control, add a form of protein to your piece of fruit eg; apple and nut butter, fruit and nut mix, dates stuffed with peanut butter, rockmelon and cottage cheese.
You can also introduce high fibre foods such as psyllium husk, oat bran, chia seeds and ground linseed to your food as a fibre topper. You can sprinkle on your yoghurt, mix with your muesli or add it to your smoothies. Try swapping a meat based meal for beans. And of course, drink plenty of water.
If you’ve been feeling a little choked up lately, it might be time to review your diet and start including more fibre rich foods.
Until next time… x