A high fibre diet can help you lose weight and may improve your digestive health.
High fibre diet means a higher number of health benefits, starting with your digestive system. A high-fibre diet will get things moving more quickly and allow your body to absorb the nutrients it needs. “Fibre is becoming more popular, as people have woken up to the fact that it’s actually a really important nutrient,” says Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan.
“It helps keep our heart healthy and reduces cholesterol,” says Rob. “And it’s key for keeping our weight on track and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels.”
But so many of us aren’t getting the fibre we need. The experts recommend we aim for 30g of fibre daily, but, shockingly, only 4% of women are managing that. On average we only get 17g out of the recommended 30g per day. So how can we up our fibre – and boost our health?
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.
Fibre 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 a high fibre diet good for?
A high fibre diet can help if you suffer from constipation or other bowel problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 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 of a high fibre diet?
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.
High fibre foods
Fibre is found in a huge number of natural foods such as fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and pulses so any of these will help up your fibre intake. Jacket potatoes in their skins and baked beans are great sources of fibre too.
Other great sources of fibre include…
- Fruit high in fibre: pears, apples, raspberries, strawberries, bananas
- Veg high in fibre: avocados, carrots, broccoli, split peas, artichoke, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes
- Snacks high in fibre: popcorn, almonds, dark chocolate
A typical day on a high fibre diet
Breakfast: 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
Soluble verses insoluble fibre
- Soluble fibre dissolves in water and attaches to cholesterol particles and takes them out of the body, reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Good sources of soluble fibre: oats, nuts, seeds, beans, apples and berries.
- Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water and remains intact as the food moves through your gut.
- Good sources of insoluble fibre: brown rice, wheat bran, rye, spelt, fruits and vegetable