Fabulous Fibre - 25 ways to help you reach your 25g/day
Oh how fabulous fibre is. We've all heard about dietary fibre and that we need to eat more of it, but why exactly is it important? Keep reading and I will fill you in on what fibre is, what it does (why it's so wonderful), and provide you with 25 different ways to help you reach your 25g/day of fibre.
So, what is dietary fibre?
Dietary fibre is a component of plant materials that passes through our stomach and small intestine relatively unchanged, as humans lack the enzymes to break it down (1). It is then fermented by the friendly bacteria in our gut. Fibre is not broken down and used as fuel like other carbohydrates, but instead acts as a sort of sponge, which along with sufficient water, helps to clean out our intestine. Sufficient dietary fibre and water, can help remove waste from our colon, provide food for our friendly gut bacteria and keep our digestive systems happy and healthy.
How much do I need?
It is recommended that females over the age of 19yrs eat around 25g/day and males eat 30g/day of fibre (1).
Why is it important?
Eating a diet rich in dietary fibre can help reduce the risk of constipation, diverticular disease, haemorrhoids, bowel cancer, and may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (2).
There are three types of fibre, which we need to eat daily, and these are insoluble and soluble fibre, and resistant starch. Most plant foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibres so if you're enjoying a variety of plant foods on a daily basis you're likely getting both of these in your diet, however, resistant starch can be harder to come by.
Insoluble fibre acts mainly as a bulking agent for stools and it helps to clear food and waste out of the gut. Insoluble fibres are the structural parts of the plant walls, and passes through the digestive system mostly intact. Insoluble fibres help to keep us full, and are important for good bowel health. Good sources of insoluble fibre are wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables (especially the skins), nuts, seeds, beans and bran.
Soluble fibres mix with water in our intestines, and form a gel that slows the rate of digestion. This can help people feel fuller for longer, and can help stabilise blood glucose levels in people with diabetes (2). Soluble fibres may also help to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels (3). Good sources of soluble fibre include beans, oats, flaxseed, psyllium, fruits, vegetables and soy products.
Resistant starch is the part of starchy foods that acts similarly to dietary fibre, and resists digestion in the small intestine. It then moves to the large intestine where it is fermented by the friendly bacteria that live there, and is changed into short-chain fatty acids, which plays an important role bowel health (4). Resistant starch is found in under ripe bananas, under-cooked or al dente pasta, cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, uncooked oats and legumes (5). Here is a short animation explaining why resistant starch is good for you.
Reaching your 25g/day (or 30) sounds hard, but it can actually be quite simple and super delicious, as long as you know what to be filling up on. I've put together 25 ways to help you reach your fibre intake, have a look and see what you could do to meet this target.
How to reach your 25g/day:
1. Opt for wholegrain bread instead of white (1.9g fibre per slice instead of 0.8g in white)
2. Crunch into an apple (4.4g fibre)
3. Add lentils to your bolognese (8g fibre per 100g)
4. Munch on popcorn (1.2g fibre per cup popped)
5. Try high-fibre pasta (6.4g fibre per 100g)
6. Eat rolled oats for breakfast (4g per 1/2 cup)
7. Snack on almonds (2.6g fibre per 30g serving)
8. Use avocado in place of butter on toast (4.6g fibre in 1/2 of an avocado)
9. Add psyllium husk to your smoothie (2.2g fibre per tablespoon)
10. Sip on soy (1.5g fibre per cup of soy milk)
11. Have a cob of corn with your dinner (5.9g fibre per medium cob)
12. Swap your white rice for brown (0.6g fibre per cup in white rice vs 2.8g for brown)
13. Add strawberries to your breakfast (3.3g fibre in one cup)
14. Enjoy peanut butter on celery (2.6g fibre per 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter, 1.8g per 3 stalks celery)
15. Eat oranges, instead of drinking juice (4.4g fibre per large orange vs 0.5g per cup of juice)
16. Enjoy beans with your salad (6.5g fibre per 100g kidney beans)
17. Add dried fruit to your oats (2.5g fibre per 5 dried apricots)
18. Have a side of broccoli (3.8g fibre per cup)
19. Mix up your grains (4.2g fibre in 1/2cup of both barley and quinoa)
20. Have carrots as a snack (1.7g fibre per medium carrot)
21. Try tahini on toast, or this delicious dressing (1.4g fibre per tablespoon)
22. Enjoy a banana before your workout (2.3g fibre in one medium banana)
23. Dip in to hummus (0.9g fibre per tablespoon)
24. Snack on wheat-style cereal biscuits (3.6g fibre per 2 biscuits)
25. Give mung-bean pasta a try (18g fibre per 100g)
The information in this article is general in nature, if you're looking for advice specifically for you, it's important to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or a Registered Nutritionist.
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1. National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values. Canberra: NHMRC; 2014. (Available from: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/dietary-fibre )
2. DIetitians Association of Australia. Fibre. Canberra: DAA. (Available from: http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fibre/ )
3. Williams PG. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. Advances in Nutrition 2014; 5: 636S-673S.
4. Better Health Channel. Fibre in Food. Victoria: Department of Health & Human Services; 2014. (Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food)
5. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The Hungry Microbiome. Canberra: CSIRO. (Available from: http://www.csiro.au/hungrymicrobiome/food.html )