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FIBRE FACTS

Firm evidence now supports the many health benefits of increasing fibre in our diet, from promoting good cholesterol levels to keeping our gut bacteria happy!

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WHAT IS FIBRE AND HOW DO WE DIGEST IT? Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the colon, the large intestine, where it is the key food for the billions of bacteria there, our ‘Gut Biome’. They release the energy from this carbohydrate by fermentation, to produce short chain fatty acids, or SCFAs, for absorption by the body and have many health benefits.
FIBRE CAN BE CONFUSING! Fibre is either soluble or insoluble. However, all fibre-rich foods contain a mixture of both types. And, contrary to popular belief, fibre isn’t always of a fibrous texture!
Soluble fibre is high in grains such as oats, barley and rye, in beans and pulses including lentils and peas, in fruits, particularly bananas and apples, and in root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Interestingly, it’s also present in breast milk where it has a key role promoting good gut bacteria in the newborn baby. Wholebean plant-based milks also contain soluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre is high in wholemeal and brown, bread and pasta, brown rice, nuts, seeds, high-fibre breakfast cereals, and some fruits and vegetables with their skins on.   
THE EVIDENCE. In 2015, The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), who report the findings of research studies to Public Health England, advised increasing the recommended intake of fibre for children (18g/day) and adults (30g/day), as a result of firm evidence for its health benefits, collected over several years. However, in the UK, our daily intake of fibre is less than half this amount.* *National Diet and Nutrition Survey update 2017
HEALTH BENEFITS Soluble fibre absorbs water to form a gel-like substance, which helps to slow digestion due to its bulking effect. (NB small portions are recommended if you’re susceptible to this!). Research has now shown soluble fibre to reduce the incidence of Cardiovascular Disease including stroke, a type of bowel cancer (Colorectal) and Type 2 Diabetes as well as helping to maintain a lower level of Cholesterol.
Bite-size interest - Fibre and Cholesterol
How can fibre help to maintain favourable cholesterol levels? The increased bowel movement due to fibre, stimulates more cholesterol-rich bile excretion into the gut. Also the bulking effect of fibre on the bowel contents ‘dilutes’ the cholesterol present for absorption. It is thought that the body responds to this reduced cholesterol absorption from the bowel by increasing cholesterol uptake out of the blood into body cells where it is required to form steroid hormones and bile acids for digestion. Therefore, blood cholesterol levels are maintained at favourable levels.
Insoluble Fibre doesn’t dissolve in water. As it passes through the gut it stimulates increased bowel movement and therefore helps to keep food moving through your digestive system.

Both types of fibre also have many other health benefits:

 Weight management – fibre helps us to feel full for longer due to its bulking effect. Additionally it slows down the absorption of sugar from our food which helps to reduce feelings of hunger, by avoiding a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels. Fibre-rich foods therefore have a low Glycaemic Index, or ‘GI’ which is the rate at which a food increases our blood glucose, low being favourable!

 Gut Bacteria – fibre acts as a prebiotic, which means it encourages the presence of favourable bacteria in the gut. These have numerous health benefits from stimulating a healthy immune system to promoting good cholesterol levels. This is an exciting area of rapidly growing research – more on this coming soon! You can read more about the health benfits of fibre here. 

10 SIMPLE WAYS TO INCREASE FIBRE IN YOUR DIET!

 Add oatbran to breakfast porridge with fruit and nuts on the top

 Snack on whole almonds

 Use finely sliced broccoli and cauliflower stalks as well as their florets

 Add cooked lentils, beans and peas onto salads and into casseroles

 For a higher fibre apple crumble add oats or oatmeal and ground, chopped dried dates into the topping. This also adds sweetness so reduces the amount of refined sugar in your recipe. Leave the skin on the apples!

 Use wild rice and brown rice mixed together

 Leave the skin on root vegetables – roast sweet potatos and enjoy them cold for lunch the next day mixed in a salad, or roast skin-on potato wedges.

 Make fibre-rich dips like homous, or mix nut butters into yoghurt 

 Add frozen peas and walnuts to green fruit smoothies to increase the fibre and reduce the sugar content at the same time. Peas are surprisingly sweet!

 Choose wholemeal bread and pasta over the more processed varieties

Next time – All about GUT BACTERIA: the latest evidence which supports their essential role in our health…

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Dr Lucy Williamson Msc

I am a freelance registered Nutritionist working in greater London, to inform and inspire better health for all, through Nutrition. I would be delighted to hear from you! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolo magna aliqua.

info@lwnutrition.co.uk
07966 298 899
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 07966 298 899

 info@lwnutrition.co.uk

inform | inspire

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