Do you need more fibre in your diet? If the statistics are anything to go by, then you probably do. Nutritionists can’t seem to shut up about the importance of fibre, yet most of us don’t get enough. But what is fibre, anyway? What makes it so important, and how do you get more into your diet?
Fibre is a structural component of plants and is found in vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based food. Although we don’t digest fibre, it is still very important for digestion and overall gut health. It keeps waste (poop) flowing and makes you feel full. The latter is particularly crucial; lack of fibre has been linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
To get enough fibre, the United States Food and Drug Administration recommends 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day and 2-3 cups of veggies. But again, research suggests that most of us fall well short of that target.
So how do you close the fibre gap in your diet?
Cut out juice and drink smoothies instead
Fibre is at the centre of a steadily growing juice backlash. Detractors claim that while juice has the vitamins of fruit, it contains none of the fibre, leaving you with mostly sugar. The lack of fibre (plus not having to chew) means you have to drink more to feel satisfied. So if a glass of OJ is a staple of your morning routine, try replacing it with whole fruit instead. And if you have to drink something sweet, blend whole fruit into a delicious smoothie.
Pack a veggie snack
If you are the sort of person that likes to sip/chew something at your desk, try swapping the coffee or chips and with a bowl of carrot sticks, celery or apple wedges to munch while you work, commute, read or watch TV. These are satisfying to chew and will help you feel generally less hungry throughout your day.
Choose high fibre breakfast cereal
Ok, maybe you’re not ready to go full “middle-aged dad” with a specialty fibre cereal. But you can at least choose breakfast cereals made from higher-fibre grains like oats and wheat bran over relatively low-fibre grains like corn. Our handy cereal guide can help you make the right choice for your morning bowl.
Choose fibre-rich carbs
Unless you’re going on a diet like the Atkins or keto, carbohydrates will take up the greatest part of your diet, so choosing fibre-rich carbohydrates and avoiding “empty carbs” like rice and potatoes is a great way to up your fibre intake. Some fibre-rich carbs (and their grams of fibre per 100 grams) include:
- Whole wheat (12.2g)
- Oats (11.6g)
- Lentils (10.7g)
- Chickpeas (7.6g)
- Quinoa (7.0g)
- Corn (7.3g)
- Sorghum (6.3g)
If you are going low-carb, fear not: nuts and seeds are the fibre kings. While it is harder to eat a high food volume, chia seeds, for example, have a whopping 34.4 grams of fibre per 100 grams! Some other fibre-rich nuts and seeds include:
- Flax seeds (27.3g)
- Coconut solids (16g)
- Almonds (12.5g)
- Pistachios (10.3g)
- Pecans (9.6g)
- Peanuts (9g)
Just eat your vegetables
There are a lot of reasons nutritionists are always bugging us to eat more fruits and vegetables, and fibre is a big one. Let’s be real here, we’re adults and we shouldn’t have to trick ourselves into eating a side of broccoli, asparagus or grapefruit once in a while. Your gut will thank you.