Are you getting enough fibre?

Getting enough fibre helps lower our risk of heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. When it comes to preventing constipation and maintaining your gut health, fibre is the way to go, along with plenty of fluid intake as well to prevent constipation. However many of us don’t eat enough each day. Simply having a bowl of cereal in the morning is only the start to reaching your daily intake of fibre. 

Types of fibre

There are two types of fibre and we need both for good health to keep our digestion working at its best. The two main types of fibre are soluble fibre and insoluble fibre and it is best to get a mixture of both types of fibre in the diet every day.

Soluble fibre is a soft, sticky kind of fibre that our bodies can digest. It helps reduce your blood cholesterol and helps ease constipation. It is found in foods such as:

  • Oats - porridge
  • Peas, beans
  • Citrus fruits, banana, apple
  • Root vegetables – carrots, potatoes

Insoluble fibre is also called ‘roughage’ and cannot be digested. It passes through your gut without being broken down and helps keep your bowels healthy. This type of fibre is found in:

  • Wholegrain foods , cereal, bran
  • Cauliflower, green beans
  • Potatoes
  • Nuts and seeds (except golden linseed which contains soluble fibre)

How can I eat more fibre?

Basically this means consuming mostly plant based foods. Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants. Here are some simple tips to keep your digestion healthy:

  1. Choose a wholegrain breakfast. Breakfast is a great place to add fibre and increase your daily intake. Go for high fibre cereals. Look for cereals with > 5g fibre per 100g. You can also try wholegrain bread or toast.
  2. Pick whole grain. Switch from white starchy foods (like white bread, pasta or rice) to the wholegrain versions (wholegrain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and wholegrain cereals).
  3. Include vegetables. Have vegetables or salads at lunch or dinner. Try vegetable soup at lunch or if you are short of time, frozen vegetables are just as good. 
  4. Eat fruit. Try to have 2-3 portions of fruit each day. Slice a banana on your cereal, slice some fruit into your salad or just enjoy as a snack.
  5. Eat potato skins. Most of a potatoes fibre is in its skin. Try baked, boiled or jacket potatoes with their skins.  Baby potatoes are also a good choice. Remember to wash skins and peels before eating or cooking.
  6. Peas, beans and lentils. Include these in your diet more often. Add to soup, salads, stews or casseroles 3 or 4 times a week.
  7. Add seeds. Seeds are high in fibre so try to include them daily. Sprinkle them on cereal, yoghurts, salad or in your homemade bread.
  8. Dried fruit and nuts: These are high in fibre yet can still have a lot of calories. A good amount is a handful size of raisins or nuts as a snack.
  9. Drink fluids. You need water so fibre can work properly. Try to drink 8 glasses of fluids each day. Water and milk are best. Remember to drink more when exercising or when it is hot.
  10. Whether you follow the The Food Pyramid or The Eatwell Plate, we have some useful information on dietary fibre.

*Remember: it is normal to feel some bloating and to pass a little more wind when you first start to add in more fibre to your daily diet. This is normal and will settle down in a week or two. It may help to gradually increase fibre in our diet over a period of a few weeks.

What counts as high and low in fibre?

High: Foods containing 6g or more of fibre per 100g.

Low: Foods containing less than 3g of fibre per 100g.

Sources of fibre

A source of fibre means that the product contains at least 3g of fibre per 100g. Good sources include:

apricot loafBreakfast

  • 2 Wheat Biscuits
  • A serving of porridge
  • High fibre breakfast cereal
  • Wholegrain toast
  • Piece of fruit

Snacks

  • Piece of fruit
  • Sprinkle some seeds, chopped fruit or nuts on yoghurt
  • Low fat popcorn
  • Whole grain crackers

Lunch

  • Baked potato with skins
  • Salad
  • Add beans/lentils to salads/soups

Dinner

  • Serving of vegetables
  • Whole wheat pasta, rice or noodles
  • Add beans/lentils to casseroles, stews etc.

Try to drink 8 glasses of fluids each day. Water and milk are best.

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