What is Fibre and Why do we need it?
Fibre is one of the most health-promoting food groups in our diet, yet it is hugely under-valued, and in the UK, we are simply not getting enough. On average we consume between 17g and 20g per day, falling significantly short of the recommended 30g.
Naturally found in fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses and wholegrains, fibre is a key ingredient for healthy digestion, helping to encourage regular bowel movements, feed beneficial bacteria in the gut and prevent disease.
There are two main types:
- Soluble fibre is typically made up of pectin, a compound found in apples, pears and berries and ‘prebiotic’ fibre like inulin. It dissolves in water forming a gel-like substance which can help to soften stools. Prebiotic fibre is also used to feed friendly bacteria for fuel and growth.
- Insoluble fibre – is made up of cellulose, which forms the cell walls of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and helps to bulk stools, supporting healthy bowel movements.
5 Reasons To Get More Fibre:
- Healthy digestion
In 2018, the ‘American Gut Project’ found that people eating more than 30 different types of plants every week had greater diversity of gut bacteria than those who ate 10 or less. Fibre helps to balance levels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, encouraging the growth of beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and suppressing potentially damaging species like E-choli. Fibre is also well known for helping to ease constipation and should be the first port of call, along with plenty of water when feeling a little ‘blocked up’!
- Happy hormones
Fibre is particularly important for female hormonal health, many common conditions such as PMT, PCOS and fibroids are associated with ‘oestrogen dominance’ and fibre combined with our gut bacteria plays a crucial role in ‘binding’ onto excess hormones and encouraging their elimination.
- Strong immune defences
Prebiotic fibre, found in artichokes, onions, garlic and green bananas helps to strengthen our innate immune system – the first line of defence against infection, improving the response of key cells that fight nasty bugs and reduce inflammation. Fibre also enhances the long-term, adaptive immune system, increasing antibody production and helping us respond quicker and recover faster.
- Healthy cholesterol
When combined with probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fibre has been shown to cause a significant reduction in total cholesterol, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and certain inflammatory markers, as well as improving levels of ‘healthy’ HDL cholesterol.
- Weight management and balanced blood glucose levels
Fibre is slowly digested, reducing the rate sugar from carbohydrates is released into our blood and helps to improve our response to the hormone insulin, balancing blood glucose and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It’s well known that if don’t burn off the glucose we consume, it tends to be stored as fat, but fibre has been shown to improve satiety levels – so by filling your plate with fibre rich foods you are unlikely to overeat.
In addition, obesity has been associated with disturbed gut microflora, one study found that supplementing with prebiotic fibre helped improve metabolism, reduce fat and improve BMI.
How to make sure you’re getting enough fibre:
- Try to aim for 7 portions of veg and 3 portions of fruit every day!
- Eat the rainbow – include as many different coloured fruit & veg as possible, the more richly pigmented the bigger the nutrient boost.
- Snack on nuts, seeds, low sugar fruit like apples, pears and berries.
- Mix up your wholegrains – steer clear of anything white and refined and try oats for breakfast, quinoa for lunch and wholegrain pasta or brown rice at dinner.
- Experiment with pulses – lentils, beans and chickpeas are packed with fibre but take it steady – be sure to introduce all fibre rich foods slowly to avoid unpleasant side effects like bloating and gas. Soaking beans and pulses before cooking or giving those that are tinned a good rinse can help reduce these symptoms.
At Get More Vits HQ we are always on the lookout for new ways to help you improve your health in as easy and tasty way as possible, so, if you think you might need to get more Fibre, try our brand-new Peach & Apricot flavoured drink, with 20% of your recommended RDA.