Simple Ways To Increase Fibre In Your Diet
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Admittedly, not a particularly sexy topic but nonetheless an incredibly important one!
I’m sure we’ve all heard by now that fibre is good for our guts, but why is that so?
Firstly, humans cannot digest fibre – instead, dietary fibre is used as an energy source for our gut microbiome (population of bacteria in our gut). When our gut microbes digest fibre, short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate are produced along the way. These SCFAs have been shown to have a very protective effect on our health, particularly on our colonic cells; epidemiological studies show an association between a higher fibre intake and a reduced risk for irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer (as well as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes). Our gut bugs also help us to synthesize essential vitamins such as vitamin K and B12.
Still not that bothered about what fibre does for your gut? Well you may be interested to know that your gut microbiome has a direct impact on additional factors such as your immune system (around 80% of our immune cells are housed in the gut), your mental health and your ability to regulate body fat. Fibre is your friend.
There’s lots of exciting research further developing surrounding fibre and it’s healthful properties, however I want to focus on how YOU can easily incorporate fibre into your diet by making some simple tweaks, enabling you to hit that RDI of 30g per day. You don’t have to suddenly begin eating cups and cups of beans (I mean, be my guest you’re up for the, er, initial consequences), but my aim for this post is to keep things practical and enjoyable as that’s what food should be about.
Easy adjustments to consider making:
Focus on adding high fibre fruits to your diet, rotating the types you consume:
Berries – particularly raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
Start the day a fibre-full one.
Why not try chia pudding or opt for porridge/bircher muesli for a beta-glucan boost. Add a delicious low sugar fruit compote like this one, some nuts and seeds and probiotic yogurt to supercharge it further.
If you enjoy having toast at brekkie, an easy tweak is ensuring to have whole-wheat bread varieties over white – this means the entire grain kernel has been used instead of just milling of the starchy endosperm (meaning the fibre part is stripped).
Multi-grain bread is another option: Multiple grains used to make the dough such as rye, barley, spelt or oats for differing nutrients and fibres. There’s plenty of great gluten free options too, just ask me for recommendations (don’t worry – none of those crumble to bits, mega-ingredient list types).
Toast toppings? Baked beans, avocado and hummus are great options for an extra fibre punch, alternatively test out my blueberry chia jam recipe here – chia seeds contain a bundle of gut friendly nutrients and my recipe is totally scrumptious if I say so myself and satisfies that sweet need.
Do you enjoy a morning greens juice? Brill, but don’t forget the benefits of a smoothie! The difference with smoothies is the vegetables and fruits are blended whole (with the skins on where appropriate), rather than just extracting the liquid part which is more rapidly absorbed to glucose, potentially putting you on that blood sugar roller coaster. Add some protein and fats into the smoothie blend for extra glucose stability and you’re set.
Get savvy in the kitchen
Say you make spag bowl for supper, why not make your meat sauce with 1/2 organic mince and 1/2 lentils? Easy-peasy, delicious and hardly noticeable.
Why not try something new? Green pea, red lentil and black bean pastas are some of my favourites for a powerful fibre rich meal whilst also boosting up plant protein intake. I love mixing in homemade pesto and pairing a colourful side salad alongside, so much freshness and flavour!
Try out my booster brownie recipe – you would never tell that these include a special, secret ingredient.
When eating potatoes, one simple change can clock up towards your daily fibre intake: eat them with their skins on. There’s nothing better than a perfectly crisp jacket.
On the subject of potatoes, cooked and then cooled potatoes are an excellent source of resistant starch, a type of fibre (prebiotic fibre) extremely beneficial for fueling those gut microbes of ours! Around 3 days is the sweet spot for maximum RS production.
Include plenty of beans and pulses to your meals: fajitas with black beans, chilli with kidney beans, chickpea curries and stews like this one, there are so many recipes to experiment with out there, get in the kitchen and have some fun!
Veggies + Fermented Foods
The plant based kingdom is one you want to prioritise…Add to your diet as many different colours and textures you can get your hands on!
Broccoli, garlic, cauliflower, leeks, asparagus and whole-grains (such as brown rice and oats), and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir are all examples of pre and probiotic fibre which support the generation of new microbes, and feed the good guys already living there so they can continue to work their magic.
I hope this gives you some inspiration for including this special nutrient into your daily meals. Why not choose a few that you feel more drawn to and find do-able? I’d recommend starting slow, building up gradually.
Let me know how you get on!
3 Dietary fibres and cardiometabolic health
4 Image source + further reading