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Are you really getting enough fibre in your diet?

1 Apr 2014 5:08 PM - Simple tips to up the fibre...

Fibre is not a very exciting subject (unless you're a naturopath) but it is certainly one that is vital to your ongoing good health!

Fibre is the part of food which can't be broken down and absorbed by your small intestine.  It is mostly found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes as well as grains and rice (especially in the outer covering which is often lost in highly processed foods). 

The role of fibre is to keep your digestive tract clean (it's like a big broom for your gut) as well as encourage good elimination of waste and toxins through your bowels.

Fibre is also a vital food source for all the vital bacteria in your gut (aka your microbiome). We need these guys to help us digest our food and release key nutrients for us to use.

A diet low in fibre can increase your risk of bowel cancer, diverticulitis, constipation, gastrointestinal problems, increased cholesterol, heart disease, weight gain and more.

It is generally thought we should aim for a minimum of 30 grams of fibre in our diet each day.  This is a general guideline which may vary from person to person depending on your specific health and needs.  It is also important to remember that this should come from a variety of sources (and not just by taking a fibre supplement or adding heaps of wheat bran to your cereal).

Many of us don't achieve this guideline and women tend to have less on average than men (according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

How do you get more fibre in your daily diet?

Some good sources of fibre include:

  • Wholemeal pasta (more than triple that of regular pasta)

  • Brown rice

  • Jacket potato (almost half the fibre is in the skin alone)

  • Oats, porridge, muesli

  • High fibre cereals and breads (compare nutritional panels)

  • Kidney beans or baked beans as well as other beans, lentils and chickpeas

  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsnip, carrots

  • Apples and pears (with skin), strawberries, raspberries, dried figs and prunes

  • Nuts and seeds

Making a few simple changes to your diet, (swapping to wholemeal pasta for example and adding in an extra serve of vegetables each day) can make a significant difference to your fibre intake.  

It's important to increase your fibre slowly and make sure you drink plenty of water as well.

For most of us (especially those who eat the typical western diet) the battle is to keep our fibre intake up.  However, consuming large amounts of excess fibre (usually by way of a supplement) over a long period of time can lead to reduced absorption of certain minerals such as zinc, iron and calcium. 

It really is best to make gradual dietary changes over time rather than rely on a fibre supplement. Food is the best way to go (when possible), not just for your bowels but for all other aspects of your health too!

Want to learn more? Read this...How to get 30grams of fibre in a day.

Would you like help in assessing your diet (including fibre intake)? Do you feel your digestion is struggling?  A naturopathic consultation can help get you on the right track.  Call me on (03) 9620 9503.

In good health,

Kaye Wright
Melbourne CBD

p.s. If you are concerned about bowel cancer, here are some tips on how to reduce your risk.

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