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Health Promotion Specialist

August 3, 2018

Get your fibre fix (and reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease!)

Fibre (also known as roughage) is an essential part of our diet but most adults in Scotland aren’t eating enough. In fact, most of us need to double our intake! Find out what fibre is, benefits of increasing your intake and easy ways to get your fibre fix in this week’s Live Better Blog.

What is fibre?

Fibre is the edible part of plants that doesn’t get digested or absorbed by our small intestines. In our large intestines, good bacteria help to break the fibre down. Fibre is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains.

Eating more fibre has a number of health benefits! And a diet rich in fibre tends to be healthier as it will also be rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (molecules that help to protect the body from damage).

Benefits of a high fibre diet

Eating more dietary fibre has so many health benefits that you’ll want to start increasing your intake today! From gut health, weight management and reducing your risk of many diseases, it really is an amazing nutrient.

Benefits of eating more fibre:

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved blood sugar control (if you already have diabetes)
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduced risk of some cancers including bowel cancer
  • May help to you to maintain a healthy weight (fibre helps to keep us full for longer making you less likely to overeat)
  • Can help to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Helps with good gut health (fibre aids goods digestion and helps to prevent and treat constipation)

How much do I need?

It is recommended that adults eat at least 30 grams of fibre every day. The average UK adult eats 18 grams a day, so most of us need to increase our intake. 

Easy ways to increase your fibre intake

If you don’t eat much fibre, it’s really important to increase your intake slowly.  A sudden increase in fibre can cause abdominal pain and wind. Drinking plenty of water also helps to process fibre through your gut.

Choose fibre from a variety of sources to ensure a balanced intake. You could try:

  • Start the day off with a high fibre cereal such as wheat biscuits, shredded wheat or oats.
  • Swap to wholemeal or wholegrain products, for example, brown rice, brown pasta and wholegrain bread.
  • Don’t peel your vegetables or potatoes – the skin on vegetables like carrots and parsnips is rich in fibre and vitamins. This includes fruit like apples too.
  • Snack on fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, vegetable sticks or oat cakes with hummus.
  • Get your 5+ of fruit and veg each day - add an extra serving of fruit at breakfast (like berries in your porridge or banana on your toast) and vegetables at teatime (with the skin on).
  • Make meat dishes go further by adding peas, beans and pulses. For example, adding kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils to a mince dish.

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***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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