Dietary fibre can be described as the substances which escape digestion and reach the large intestine. We now understand that fibre consists of a whole range of different substances which have different benefits in the body.
What are the benefits of fibre?
The most commonly known benefit of dietary fibre is that it influences stool bulk and consistency, therefore helping transit time through the digestive tract and preventing constipation. Some types of fibre help us stay fuller for longer and others help to lower cholesterol, and some can slow down the rise in blood glucose levels after a meal. Some dietary fibres are prebiotics and may improve gut microbiota by providing an energy source for the growth of beneficial bacteria.
There is also strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer.
How much fibre do we need?
The recommended amount of fibre we should get every day is 30g. The average fibre intake in the UK is 17g and therefore we need to eat 13g extra fibre per day.
What are good sources of fibre?
Fibre Ready Reckoner
|Food||Amount of fibre g|
|Baked beans, 1 small can 205g||10|
|Lentils, 206g cooked||7.8|
|2 Shredded Wheat||6|
|120g Wholemeal pasta, boiled||5|
|70g Bulger wheat, raw||4.7|
|80g Peas boiled||4.4|
|Baked potato, medium||4.3|
|2 Rye crispbread||4|
|1 tbsp Flaxseeds (linseeds)||3.8|
|130g White pasta boiled||3.3|
|Wholemeal bread, medium slice||2.6|
|Granary bread, medium slice||2.4|
|160g Brown rice boiled||2.4|
|80g Brussel sprouts||2.1|
|220g Porridge cooked||1.8|
|25g unsalted peanuts||1.8|
|1 large banana||1.7|
Tips to increase your fibre intake
- Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as All-bran, Weetabix, Shredded wheat, Muesli, or porridge
- Choose wholemeal or granary bread, or higher fibre white bread, and choose whole grains like wholemeal pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
- Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes.
- Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries, and salads.
- Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries.
- Add fruit, nuts or seeds to breakfast cereal or yoghurt.
Always increase your fibre intake gradually and increase fluid at the same time, as the effects of fibre on stool formation and passage rely on an adequate fluid intake.