Fibre is a hot topic for nutrition professionals right now and most of us know that we should aim to include plenty of it in our diets. But despite the relative ease of doing so, many of us are deficient in this key nutrient, consuming just 18g of the daily 30g recommended by the British Nutrition Foundation.
Fibre is responsible for improving digestion, normalising our bowel movements and lowering cholesterol levels. It lowers the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Taking a little time to understand exactly why fibre is so important can encourage us to make better dietary choices.
The importance of fibre
Researchers are fascinated by the gut microbiome – the collective name for the trillions of microorganisms that live inside our intestines. A healthy gut is a remarkable piece of biological equipment and by looking after it, you can radically improve your overall health and wellbeing. In addition to pro- and prebiotics, your digestive system needs plenty of fibre to keep it in good shape. There are two types of fibre, soluble (which dissolves easily in water) and insoluble. It’s important to include a wide range of different sources of fibre in your diet to make sure you’re getting enough of both.
When fibre is passed into the large intestine intact, it’s broken down by the good bacteria that live there. The resulting carbs are used or stored as energy, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are produced. SCFA act as messenger molecules providing a crucial link between the gut and the nervous system. They also support the intestinal lining and have beneficial effects on inflammation and immune function.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that depression and neurological disorders are often accompanied by digestive issues. Furthermore, around 80% of our immune cells actually sit within the gut and it’s estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ – is made within the digestive tract.
How can you increase your fibre intake?
- Choose rye, sourdough wholewheat or granary bread.
- Go for wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, millet and brown rice.
- Load up with nuts and seeds. They are an ideal snack or great sprinkled on top of your morning porridge.
- Enjoy fresh, colourful and ideally organic leafy greens, fruits and seasonal root vegetables.
- Chickpeas, pulses and beans are a fabulous source of fibre too.
Make sure you increase your water intake because fibre tends to sponge up the fluids in the gut and often leads to constipation.
If you are new to increasing your fibre uptake, do so slowly. Too much fibre can overstimulate the gut and for people with conditions like Crohn’s, diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it can make symptoms worse.
The Pure Package meals and snacks are rich and diverse in fibre. So, if you want to improve your wellbeing, let us help you with one of our healthy meal programmes.