Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet and is often overlooked. It is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the body and passes relatively unchanged through the digestive system. Despite this, it plays a vital role in maintaining good health.
There are two main types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and can help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and helps to add bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements.
The recommended daily intake of fibre varies depending on age and gender, but generally, adults should aim for at least 30 grams per day. However, most people do not get enough fibre in their diet, with the average intake being only about 20 grams per day.
Eating a diet high in fibre has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving digestion, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. In this blog post, we will explore 8 simple and delicious ways to add more fibre to your diet.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre, and should be a cornerstone of any healthy diet.
Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization. A serving is equal to about 80 grams, or about the size of a small apple or a half cup of cooked vegetables.
Some high-fibre options include apples, berries, oranges, pears, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Incorporating these into your diet can be as simple as adding a piece of fruit to your breakfast or packing a few vegetables into your lunch.
Choose whole grains
Switching to whole grains is another easy way to increase your fibre intake. Whole grains are grains that have not been processed and still contain the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means that they are higher in fibre, as well as other nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, compared to refined grains.
In addition to being higher in fibre, whole grains have been shown to have a number of health benefits. They can help to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and may even help with weight management.
Examples of whole grains include oats, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat. Try choosing whole grain breads and cereals when you are doing your grocery shopping, or using whole grains as a base for salads and side dishes.
Add nuts and seeds to your meals
Nuts and seeds are a tasty and convenient way to boost your fibre intake.
There are many different types of nuts and seeds to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and nutritional profile. Some high-fibre options include almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
Nuts and seeds can be easily added to a variety of dishes to boost their fibre content. You can sprinkle a handful of nuts over your oatmeal or yogurt, or mix a tablespoon of chia seeds into your smoothie. You can also use nuts and seeds to add crunch to salads, or as a topping for baked goods.
Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas, are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, as well as a range of other nutrients like iron, zinc, and folate.
There are many types of legumes available, such as black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas, so you can choose between different flavours and textures.
Legumes can be added to soups, stews, and salads, or used as a base for dips like hummus. They can also serve as a plant-based protein source in dishes like veggie burgers and stir-fries. BBC Good Food has a helpful list of healthy bean recipes to give you some tasty ideas.
Include more soluble fibre in your diet
Soluble fibre is a type of fibre that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. This can help to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels.
Good sources of soluble fibre include oats, barley, apples, and beans. You can easily increase your intake of these fibre by choosing whole grain cereals and breads, or by adding a serving of oats or barley to your meals.
Apples and other high-fibre fruits are also an excellent source of soluble fiber. Try incorporating a few slices of apple into your oatmeal or yogurt, or adding them to your snacks and meals.
Snack on high-fibre foods
When you snack on high-fibre foods, you can help to keep yourself feeling fuller for longer and may be less likely to overeat. This can be especially helpful for weight management.
Some tasty and convenient high-fibre snack options include fruit, nuts, and whole grain crackers. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds, are a great option that can be easily thrown into a bag or container for on-the-go snacking.
For a more substantial snack, try spreading a little almond butter or hummus on some whole grain crackers. You can also mix together a batch of your own high-fiber trail mix by combining nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. This recipe for a healthy trail mix by Healthy Maven is one of our favourites!
Use whole wheat flour
Switching to whole wheat flour is an easy and delicious way to increase your fibre intake. Whole wheat flour is made from whole wheat grains, which means that it still contains the bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain. This makes it higher in fibre, as well as other nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, compared to refined white flour.
Whole wheat flour has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with many dishes. It can be easily used in place of white flour in a variety of recipes, including breads, muffins, and pancakes. It can also be used as a thickener for sauces and soups.
In addition to being a good source of fibre, whole wheat flour has been shown to have a number of health benefits. It can help to lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Need some inspiration? Check out this list of whole wheat flour recipes by Insanely Good.
Don't forget about fibre supplements
If you're struggling to get enough fiber from your diet, fibre supplements can be a convenient way to increase your intake. There are several different types of fiber supplements available, including psyllium husk, ground flaxseeds, and wheat bran. These supplements can be taken in capsule or powder form and can be easily mixed into drinks or added to foods.
Fibre supplements can be particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty incorporating high-fibre foods into their diet due to dietary restrictions or food intolerances. They can also be helpful for those who are experiencing constipation or other digestive issues and are looking for a quick and easy way to increase their fibre intake.
However, it's important to remember that fibre supplements should not be used as a replacement for a healthy diet rich in whole foods. They should be taken in addition to a balanced diet and used as needed.
It's also important to drink plenty of water when taking fibre supplements, as they can absorb water and cause constipation if not taken with enough fluids. If you're considering taking a fibre supplement, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional first to determine the right dosage and to ensure that it is safe for you to use.