It’s the F-word you want to say a couple of times a day, we’ve all heard of the importance of fibre (especially in terms of keeping you regular), but it is not often a priority when it comes to nutrient intake. Here we discover practical ways on how to increase your fibre intake and the benefits of having a high fibre diet. But firstly, what really is fibre?
Nutrition Australia explains that “fibre is made up of the indigestible parts or compounds of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines.” Fibre helps make us feel fuller for longer, less bloated and is important for our digestive health and helps regulate bowel movements.
Types of fibre
Fibre comes in three main forms soluble, insoluble and resistant, each playing a different role in our digestive systems.
- Soluble works to slow down the digestive system which helps you feel fuller for longer. Plus it also works to lower your cholesterol and stabilise your blood glucose levels. You can find soluble fibre in fruits, vegetables, barley, oats and legumes.
- Insoluble fibre is found in wholegrain cereals and breads. It absorbs water which helps soften the what’s in your bowels and keeps us full and regular.
- Resistant cannot be digested in the small intestine so must be processed in the large intestine where it helps produce good bacteria and improves bowel health. Sources of resistant start include under-ripe bananas, uncooked pasta, cooled potato and rice.
Recommended daily intake
30g per day
25g per day
How to increase fibre intake
Chloe McLeod, co-founder and sports dietitian at the Health & Performance Collective shared with New Idea Food, four simple ways to increase fibre intake.
- Include more fibre rich foods in your diet.
- Aim to include at least 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day
- Include legumes and whole grain carbohydrates as a regular part of your diet
- Include nuts and seeds, aiming for 30g per day
Extra resources: here’s a list of some high fibre foods.
We also asked Chloe a few of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to fibre.
LD: What are the short term/daily benefits of a high fibre diet?
CM: Short term benefits are more regular bowel movements and increased feelings of fullness
LD: What are the long term benefits of a high fibre diet? Are there specific conditions it protects against?
CM: The long term benefits of a high fibre diet are considerable, they include:
- Reduced cholesterol levels, meaning better heart health
- Reduced risk of bowel cancer
- Reduced risk of a number of other gastrointestinal conditions, such as constipation
- Better blood sugar control
- Healthier body weight
- Healthier microbiome, which is linked to a number of other health conditions as well.
LD: What might happen if you don't have enough fibre in your diet?
CM: Poorer bowel health, particularly increased risk of constipation, meaning it is more difficult and will take longer for waste to move through the digestive tract. This can leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Many high fibre foods are rich in other nutrients as well, so if inadequate fibre is consumed it is likely the diet will be missing other important nutrients as well, which can lead to deficiencies.
LD: What will happen if you have too much fibre in your diet?
CM: Too much fibre can actually also slow bowel motions, or it can speed them up too much and cause loose motions to occur. Too much may also cause bloating and wind. Increasing fibre intake too quickly is particularly likely to trigger these symptoms, so it is important to take it slowly when increasing your fibre intake.
Here are a couple of our favourite fibre packed recipes:
1. 5-Ingredient Cranberry Nut Bars
This super simple on-the-go snack will be a new favourite! Get the full recipe.
2. Smoky Chickpeas on toast
Easiest ever mid-week meals. Get the full recipe.
3. Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potatoes
The best - and easiest! - vegetarian dinner recipe you'll see all week! Get the full recipe.
4. Corn and black bean Mexican salad
This is a salad you can almost guarantee that no one else will bring to a family barbecue or picnic. It also makes a great meal to take to work or school. Get the full recipe.
5. Best ever lentil lasagne
Looking for the ultimate vegan lasagne? Well, go no further. Get the full recipe.