Discover the benefits of increasing your fibre intake – by Guts UK charity
Fibre is the indigestible part of plant-based foods that do not get absorbed into our body. Many of us are aware of fibre and know it’s an important component of any healthy diet, yet most of us don’t eat enough of it.
We used to believe that it didn’t do much at all, assuming that because the human body couldn’t digest it, it just ‘travelled’ through our digestive system. In fact, it is absolutely vital for gut health, helping to prevent constipation and even bowel cancer.
“The average person in the UK eats less than 20g of fibre per day or less than two-thirds of the recommended 30g amount. Through recent research, we know that additional fibre in the diet reduces the risk of chronic common conditions, such as bowel cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes,” says Julie Thompson, specialist dietician and information manager at Guts UK charity.
Foods that are rich in fibre include wholegrain cereals, wholewheat pasta, oats and wholegrain bread. Fruit and vegetables such as berries, pears, melon, oranges, broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn are also rich in fibre, as are peas, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and potatoes.
There are a number of simple steps you can take to increase your fibre intake, like swapping to wholegrain bread, opting for wholewheat pasta or choosing potatoes with skins, such as baked potatoes, wedges or boiled new potatoes. Think about adding beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.
“If you are planning to increase the amount of fibre in your diet, you should do this gradually,” Julie continued. “Increasing your fibre intake suddenly can cause symptoms such as wind and bloating”.
The science never lies. A paper published in the Lancet medical journal that analysed 185 studies and 58 clinical trials discovered just how important fibre can be in contributing to a long and healthy life. “The paper suggests that if you shifted 1,000 people from a low fibre diet (less than 15g) to a high-fibre one (25-29g), it would prevent thirteen deaths and six cases of heart disease,” Julie explained. “It’s simple – the more fibre we eat, the better!”
Guts UK is the charity for the digestive system. The digestive system is truly fascinating, but it is very complex. Millions are affected by digestive diseases, yet our guts have been underfunded and misunderstood for decades. With new knowledge and research, we can diagnose earlier, develop kinder treatments and ultimately, a cure.
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