When you think of fibre, you probably think about bowel and digestive health. But did you know that eating the recommended amount of fibre each day also has a far-reaching impact on your overall wellbeing. This includes improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, managing blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy weight and fueling your gut microbiome. If you think you’re getting enough fibre from your daily bowl of cereal, think again. While this is definitely not a bad start to the day, getting enough fibre requires more thought. In this guide, I will tell you what fibre is, what its benefits are and some tips on how to get your recommended fibre intake every day.
Types of fibre
This type of fibre breaks down in your gut and acts like a sponge. It mops up your intestines as it slowly moves along. Soluble fibre is found in:
Being ‘not soluble’, this type of fibre doesn’t break down in your gut, but helps to bulk up whatever is in there to help you stay regular. Insoluble fibre in found in:
- Green beans
- Fruit and vegetable skins
Why is dietary fibre so important?
Over the last century or so, humans have turned their attention more towards processed foods. This has led to decreasing amounts of fibre. This was not intentional. Of course the excitement of new food creations and their convenience has overshadowed the importance of eating whole foods that are naturally high in fibre.
Recent studies continue to confirm that diets high in dietary fibre reduce symptoms of depression, the risk of bowel cancer and the risk for heart disease. You can find fibre in wholegrains, veggies, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds. Some specific sources I love include:
- Black beans
- Green peas
- Chia seeds
How to get your recommended fibre intake
For starters, you need to know how much fibre you need each day. According to the Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for Australia and New Zealand the average adult aged 19-70+ requires 25-30 g of fibre per day, usually 25 for women and 30 g for men.
If that seems like a lot, I’m about to show what a day of eating the right amount of fibre looks like.
BREAKFAST: Oats with milk, fruit and nuts
1 cup cooked oats = 4 g total fibre
75 g fruit (excluding blueberries) = 1.8 g total fibre
30 g nuts (excluding almonds) = 4 g total fibre
Grand total: 9.8 g total fibre
LUNCH: Tuna, hummus and salad sandwich
2 slices wholegrain bread = 3.8 g total fibre
30 g hummus = 1.8 g total fibre
2 tsp mustard = 0.4 g total fibre
50 g tomato = 0.6 g total fibre
15 g greens = 0.5 g total fibre
Grand total: 7.1 g total fibre
SNACK: Celery with peanut butter
100 g celery = 1.6 g total fibre
2 tbsp peanut butter – 3 g total fibre
Grand total: 4.6 g total fibre
DINNER: Brown rice taco bowl
½ cup cooked brown rice = 1.65 g total fibre
Beef = 0 g total fibre
15 g lettuce = 0.2 g total fibre
Cheese (excluding Cheddar) = 0 g total fibre
50 g tomato = 0.6 g total fibre
¼ – ½ avocado = 3.4-6.8 g total fibre
2 tbsp salsa = 0.5 g dietary fibre
Grand total: 6.35 g – 9.75 g, depending on how much avocado you eat
As you can see, this day-on-a-plate has between 27.85 g and 31.25 g of total fibre, depending on how much of that avo you use at dinnertime. This amount of fibre will satisfy the requirements for both women and men respectively. This example also includes soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which are very important.
Extra tips for getting your recommended fibre intake
- Choose wholegrain options over white or wholemeal options
- Ensure half of your plate is made up of veggies
- Keep the skin on your fruits and veggies wherever you can
- Opt for whole fruits and vegetables over juices (which remove from of the fibre content)
- Try to eat 30 different plant foods every week
If you feel like you are struggling to meet your daily nutrient requirements, me and a group of other certified and experienced dietitians have come together to create Verde Nutrition. Simply click here and scroll down to choose a dietitian who is an expert in your area of interest. Book your first consultation from there, and get ready to see real results for your health.