Fibre is the part of plant foods that our bodies can’t digest. It keeps our digestive system healthy by encouraging regular bowel movements. Fibre is found in vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes.
Increasing your intake of fibre helps keep you fuller for longer, which may help prevent unwanted weight gain. Fibre can also improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can reduce the risk of developing disease such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
Types of fibre
There are three different types of fibre, which all have different functions and health benefits.
Soluble fibre - can help stabilise blood glucose levels and may also help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Foods high in soluble fibre include fruit, vegetables, legumes, oats and barley.
Insoluble fibre - helps support regular bowel movements and promote a healthy bowel environment. Foods high in insoluble fibre include wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, and the skin of fruit and vegetables.
Resistant starch - assists in the production of good bacteria and improves bowel health. Foods high in resistant starch include al dente pasta (cooked but still slightly firm), firm bananas, cooked and cooled potato and rice, and legumes.
Tips to include more fibre in your day
- Try wholegrain or wholemeal bread instead of white.
- Swap white rice and pasta for brown or wholemeal varieties.
- Choose a bran or oat based cereal - look for one that contains >4g fibre per serve.
- Add beans or lentils to mince dishes and salads.
- Snack on fruit, nuts or raw vegetables.
- Include an additional vegetable at every main meal.
A sudden switch from a low to a high-fibre diet may create abdominal pain and increased wind. Increase your fibre intake gradually and don't forget to drink water regularly to help with bowel regularity and avoid dehydration.
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