What does the recommended intake of fibre look like?
Dietary fibre provides a whole host of benefits to our health and studies have shown it can prevent several diseases. In 2015, the government set new guidelines for the recommended intake of dietary fibre we should consume daily to 30g (previously 18g) for adults.
According to research, many people aren't consuming near this figure, so I wanted to show what 30g of fibre looks like in food forms. If you're only consuming three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), that means getting 10g of fibre per meal.
Why is fibre important?
Dietary fibre (you may also know this as roughage, the old term for it) is only found in plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, fruit, beans, lentils and starchy carbohydrates. It refers to the substance from these plant foods that can't be wholly broken down by digestion.
Fibre can be split into two:
- Soluble fibre: dissolves in water and feeds intestinal 'good' bacteria.
- Insoluble fibre: doesn't dissolve in water.
Soluble fibre is fermentable, meaning it can be used in a healthy way in the gut. It’s essential for health as it feeds intestinal 'good bacteria’, encouraging the growth of our gut flora, and so enabling the gut to function at an optimum pace. This affects our overall health, well-being and immunity.
Insoluble fibre is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested, and as such adds bulk to our stools, helping them to become formed and solid, and pass more easily.
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are often absorbed into the bloodstream before it has travelled to the large intestine, which means there is little food left for the gut. However, fibre can reach the gut almost unchanged, as human cells don't possess adequate enzymes to digest the fibre. The large intestine does and uses the fibre as prebiotics (food for the good bacteria.)
Dietary fibre is mainly thought about in terms of digestive health but has many other benefits too including:
- Keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
- Prevents constipation.
- Helps to prevent diseases such as stroke, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- Helps to maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
What does fibre look like on your plate?
Here are a couple of ideas to ensure 10g of fibre per meal is easily achievable:
- 1/2 cup of porridge oats (2g).
- With a medium chopped pear (5.5g).
- Add a spoonful of chia seeds (5.5g) OR 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds (3.8g).
Total of 11.3-13g fibre
- A cup of bran flakes (7g).
- With 1/2 cup of raspberries (4g).
Total of 11g fibre
- 2 slices of wholemeal toast (4g).
- With an avocado (6.7g).
Total of 10.7g fibre
- 1 large baked potato (8g).
- With 100g baked beans (6g).
Total of 14g fibre
- 1/2 cup brown rice (1.75g).
- With a cup of broccoli (5.1g).
- Add 1/2 cup peas (4.4g).
- And a portion of meat.
Total of 11.25g fibre
- Lentil stew:
- 1 cup lentils (15g).
- 1 onion (1.2g) 1 carrot (1.7g).
- 1 leek (1.6g).
- 100g chopped tomatoes (1.9g).
- with herbs and spices and a stock cube.
Total of 21.4g fibre
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