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How to boost the amount of fibre in your diet
With constant talk of superfoods, Paleo diets and intermittent fasting, it is not surprising that sometimes the basics of good nutrition are forgotten like the importance of getting enough dietary fibre. Aussie adults need about 30g of dietary fibre each day but with less than half of Australians getting this amount it appears we have some work to do when it comes to our fibre intake.
Dietary fibre has a number of important roles in the body. Apart from keeping the gut healthy by facilitating the removal of waste through the digestive tract, dietary fibre also plays a role in helping to develop healthy bacteria in the gut; regulating cholesterol absorption and in keeping us full after eating.
There are three different types of fibre that we get from different types of food, which also have different roles and functions in the body. Soluble fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, oats and legumes such as kidney beans and lentils and it forms a gel like substance when it combines with water. Soluble fibre is specifically involved in cholesterol lowering, controlling blood glucose levels and it helps to slow down digestion, in turn helping to keep up fuller for longer after eating.
Insoluble fibre is found primarily in wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds and in the skin of fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fibre moves through the gut largely undigested and supports regular bowel movements.
Then we have resistance starch which is a type of fibre that remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine where it assists in the production of good bacteria to keep the gut healthy. Resistance starch is found only in a few specific foods including cooked, cooled potato and green bananas.
Green bananas for healthy gut? Yes, it’s true. Click here to read more.
In busy lives, our fibre intake suffers when we pick up foods on the run that contain relatively small volumes of vegetables and wholegrains.
Below is an example of a typical low fibre diet. It is not necessary ‘unhealthy’, but it lacks the volumes of good quality grains and fresh fruit and vegetables that will help you reach your 30g / fibre target.
Now simply adjusting this diet slightly will dramatically increase your daily fibre intake whilst still eating in a similar way.
While this example is still slightly under the recommended total fibre intake, it shows how simple it is to dramatically increase your fibre intake by concentrating on wholemeal and wholegrain carbs and adding fruit and vegetables where you can to your meals.
In general, we need two pieces of fruit, salad at lunch along with plenty of vegetables at dinner, along with a serve or two of wholegrain bread or grains every day to reach our dietary fibre targets. In addition, a serve of resistant starch via an unripe banana incorporated into a smoothie, or a serve of cooled potato or rice will again boost your intake of this super nutrient known for its specific benefits to gut health.
Unfortunately, relying on a serve of vegetables at night and a piece of fruit each will just not cut it when it comes to achieving optimal intakes of dietary fibre. Focusing on fibre is an easy way to improve our nutrition minus any strict diets or food restrictions. And the health benefits are instantaneous. Not only will your bowel function better immediately, but your weight, cholesterol and gut health are all likely to benefit, supporting optimal health and well-being long term.
Click here to read more about the foods that will make you feel full.
Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.