Fibre and why it’s so important in your diet

Fibre and why it’s so important in your diet


The low-down on fibre

We think of carbohydrates as good or bad; good being complex and bad being simple. The simple carbohydrates come from sugary foods such as juices, cakes and sweets. Complex carbohydrates are split into starchy carbohydrates and non-starchy carbohydrates. The starchy carbohydrates are found in potatoes, beans, pulses, cereals and some vegetables. Non-starchy carbohydrate is fibre, which can be soluble and is found in oats, apples, flaxseed and nuts. Insoluble fibre is found in whole-wheat products, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and fruit. If carbohydrates are not created equal, there are some that should to limit and others we want to increase.But why should we want to increase our intake of fibre?

1. Fibre is good for our digestive system. It slows everything down. When we eat a meal our blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released to shuttle the energy around our bodies. The fibre found  in plant foods helps to slow this process down so that we don’t get a sudden spike in our blood sugar level. Any spike in the levels will be followed by a sudden ‘low’. This is where the phrases ‘sugar high’ and ‘sugar low’ come from.

2. It enables our bodies to absorb more nutrients. This process being slowed also helps out bodies absorb other nutrients from our foods such vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals help build and repair our bodies, fight infection, strengthen our immune system and provide energy. Fibre rich foods also provide some of these nutrients such as vitamin A for good eye sight and the immune system, Vitamin E for antioxidant, Vitamin B2 for releasing energy and many others.

3. It keeps your full. Fibre absorbs water and forms a gel-like mass in our intestines. This means that foods containing fibre make us feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. This gel-like substance works to push everything through our digestive system. It helps regular bowel movement and reduces constipation.

4. Fibre can reduce some serious health risks.  Fibre acts like a brush sweeping cholesterol that is built up in the arteries out of our bodies. It has been researched that a diet rich in fibre, helps reduce cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.It is recommended by the Government that we need 18 grams of fibre in our diet per day.

So, what does 18 grams of fibre look like?

A bowl of Bran Flakes (30g) = 4 grams of fibre
A slice of wholemeal bread = 2/3 grams
A small baked potato with the skin = 3 grams
A medium apple = 2 grams
Half a cup of green peas = 5 grams
Half a cup of brussel sprouts = 3 grams

Try thinking about your fibre intake. You can consider simple food swaps such as replacing your usual sugary cereal with bran flakes or porridge, adding dried fruit and nuts to cereal or eaten as snack and switching to wholemeal bread to help increase your daily intake of fibre.