Feeding Your Gut with Fibre
As a population, we do not eat enough fibre in our diets, and getting a mixture of the different types of fibre is another important consideration. But before we even discuss the food sources, it’s important to first understand: what is ‘fibre’, why is it important, and then; what does eating more actually look like? It turns out there is many health benefits from increasing your fibre intake, and being a regular loo visitor is not the only reason!
WHAT is Fibre?
It is a group of carbohydrates that are not easily digested by our body, and are fermented in our colon (large intestine). Or put more simply: some types of carbohydrates when eaten are not digested, so they enter our colon either fully or partially intact. Good bacteria that lives in our gut then feeds off that fibre (a process known as ‘fermentation’), fuelling both them and us!
There are three different types of fibre:
- Soluble fibre
- Insoluble fibre
- Resistant starch
Some foods fit into multiple fibre categories, others just one. The three different types offer different benefits, and therefore when it comes to fibre (and any other foods as you will hear from any dietitian), a variety is the best choice.
Gut Bacteria or ‘Microbiota’
Our gut does some pretty amazing things – one of them being host to millions of bacteria, both good and bad. Good gut bacteria chew through our undigested food, which helps to feed them and keep our gut working as it should. This is where probiotics have become popular. These are tablets that provide our gut with more bacteria and different strains of bacteria, which has shown beneficial effects in those with diarrhoea, constipation, IBS, low mood, anxiety and many other things. Although keep in mind, it is dependent on the amounts of bacteria and the types of strains you are choosing. Then there is also prebiotics. This is foods or supplements that feed your bacteria – and fibre foods can be prebiotic. Picture it like a fully intact grain from your morning toast sitting in your colon. Some of those good bacteria float on over, have a nibble on the grain, and hey presto – you’re fuelling the bugs.
WHY is Fibre Important?
Fibre doesn’t only feed your good gut bacteria! It brings in more water to the colon keeping your bowel motions regular, it helps ‘bulk’ your stool up so that it can move through to the toilet easier, it can lower blood cholesterol, maintain your blood glucose (sugars) levels, and help to keep you fuller for longer; therefore helping with weight management – what’s not to love?
- Soluble fibre
Helps with lowering blood cholesterol, maintaining blood glucose levels, regular bowel movements, and acts as a prebiotic (by ‘bulking’ the stool)
- Barley (cook this like rice and try it as a substitute)
- Fruits & vegetables (including the skin!)
- Root vegetables – yams, beetroot, parsnip, carrots, onion, garlic
- Nuts and seeds (handful per day, choose unsalted)
- Psyllium Husk (2-3 teaspoons sprinkled onto breakfast, found in the organic/natural food sections)
- Resistant Starch
Acts as a prebiotic for a healthy gut, and is associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer
- Raw oats
- Cooked and cooled pasta, rice, and potatoes
- Cashew nuts unsalted
- Firm/unripe bananas
Keep in Mind!
- Gradually increase your fibre intake… if these foods don’t often feature in your diet, introduce them in slowly.
- Drink water, water, and more water! If you’re increasing the fibre in your diet, you also need to (generally) increase the water in your diet. Try keeping a water bottle on your desk to prompt you to drink more.
- Exercise – aim for at least 30 minutes 5-7 days a week. Exercise helps with so many things, but in this instance it helps with keeping regular.
- ENJOY YOUR FOOD
For any questions you have about fibre, or any other diet-related questions, please call to talk with our Dietitian on-site – Lydia. Or alternatively, feel free to book an appointment in with our friendly reception team to organise a time to see Lydia for a more in-depth nutrition consult.