According to the Better Health Channel, most Australians ingest about 20-25 grams of fibre each day – about five grams short of the recommended daily intake.1 Five grams doesn’t sound like much, but this lack of fibre can lead to a range of health problems, many of which are linked to your digestive system.
The most common disorders that arise from a lack of fibre include:
· Irritable bowel syndrome
· Heart disease
· Bowel cancer
On a more positive note, fibre slows down the process of emptying your stomach, which can help you feel full for longer. This makes it a great addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight.
You know you need it, so how do you add more fibre?
There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble – and you need both for a healthy digestive system. Some foods have both types of fibre in them, others only contain one type.
Raspberries and blackberries are the clear winners when it comes to high-fibre fruits, with a whopping 8 grams of fibre per cup (an apple or pear, in comparison, has about 4 grams). It’s important to note that in both raspberries and blackberries, the bulk of the fibre content is insoluble fibre.
To boost your soluble fibre content, make grains your best friend in the kitchen. Oats, bran and barley are rich in soluble fibre, and are easy additions to your daily diet. Lentils are great, too. And don’t forget to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – they are all excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Go easy when boosting your fibre intake
It’s not a great idea to make a sudden switch from a low-fibre to a high-fibre diet, as your body won’t be ready for the onslaught. You may experience pain in the belly or increase flatulence as a result – to avoid these side-effects, try to increase your intake gradually.
And don’t overdo it. Just as there can be health problems arising from not enough fibre in your diet, there can be problems associated with having too much fibre in your diet.
As with many dietary recommendations, it’s a balancing act. Listen to your body, watch what you eat and enjoy all your healthy food choices!