What is a high fibre diet?
Fibre is a substance found in the cell walls of plants and is essential for keeping us healthy. A high fibre diet is one rich in fibrous foods and low in foods that contain no fibre at all such as meat.
Fibrous foods tend to be naturally low-fat and fill you up so you'll feel fuller on fewer calories.
Most people eat about 20g of dietary fibre a day but you should be aiming for between 30g and 40g.
How does a high fibre diet work?When fibre, or roughage as it's sometimes called, passes through our bowel, it absorbs water and bulks up the waste matter. This makes it easier for our bodies to get rid of the waste, keeping our bowels moving.
Who is it good for?A high fibre diet can help if you suffer from constipation or other bowel problems. But it's also good for preventing a variety of other conditions too from piles, to heart disease and even bowel and breast cancer.
In general, foods that are full of fibre are also low in fat and full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. For example, pulses contain iron and calcium too.
What are the drawbacks?You might find that suddenly upping your fibre intake will make you bloated, full of wind and even constipated. That's why it's important to introduce more fibre gradually. Start by swapping your white bread for brown or your cornflakes for Shredded Wheat.
What do you do on a high fibre diet?Avoid eating too much meat as this contains no fibre at all. Instead, try to eat foods full of natural fibre such as fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and pulses.
When it comes to cereal-based foods, such as bread, pasta and actual breakfast cereals, the amount of fibre depends on how much the outer layer of the grain has been stripped away.
In general, the more processed food is, the less fibre it will contain. That's why you should go for brown bread and rice, not white. Wholemeal pasta is better than the bleached, white type and when you buy cereal, look out for 'wholegrain' brands like Shreddies and Shredded Wheat.
What can you eat on a high fibre diet?Fibre is found in a huge number of natural foods such as fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and pulses so any of these will do you good. Jacket potatoes in their skins and baked beans are great sources of fibre too.
Typical day's dietBreakfast: Shredded wheat, semi skimmed milk
Lunch: Jacket potato with beans
Dinner: Lentil casserole with brown rice, salad made with peppers, tomatoes and other raw vegetables.
Snacks: Fruit and veg
Top tipA book called the F-Plan by Audrey Eyton was a bestseller for years after publication in 1982 and is still popular today. It's a high-fibre, low-fat, calorie-controlled eating plan. The updated version, The F2 Diet, is available from www.amazon.co.uk.
Find out more
Visit constipationadvice.co.uk and bhf.org.uk