Why is fibre important?
For a long time we have known that fibre is important for adding bulk to stool weight and preventing constipation, as well as reducing our risk of developing colorectal cancers. Furthermore, recent research has shown that they also help to feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut, allowing nutrients from food to be more readily absorbed.
Dietary fibre does more than simply pass through the body – trillions of microorganisms in the small intestine are able to ferment the fibre and so it does provide the body with some energy. They may also help to control blood sugar levels and boost mood.
Where do we get our fibre from?
In the UK, 38% of our fibre comes from cereals and cereal products. Of this 38%, fibre is mainly obtained from simple (refined) carbohydrates – white pasta, rice, and bread. These are typically poor sources of fibre compared to complex carbohydrates, however they remain a key source due to the high amounts in which we consume them.
A further 30% of our fibre intake is obtained from fruits, roots and vegetables. Despite the fact that we can obtain fibre from countless varieties, the most common source is the potato.
How much fibre should I be getting?
In 2015, The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, or SACN, carried out extensive research into the current literature surrounding the health benefits of fibre and, concluded for every 7g increase in fibre intake there was:
– A 9% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
– A 7% reduced risk of colon cancer
– A 7% reduced risk of stroke
– A 6% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
From these findings, they determined that a new recommendation of 30g of fibre a day (previously 18g) would be an ideal target for the general public – males and females aged 16-74. Recent analysis has shown however that we are not meeting this daily requirement, with the average intake being closer to 19g.
Kamsons’ top tips to increase your fibre intake:
- Leave skins on fruits, vegetables and roots such as potatoes and pears – save yourself the time and the fibre!
- Try replacing ⅓ of the flour in baking recipes, or ⅓ of the mince in meatball recipes with oats.
- Swap your juice for a smoothie.
- Opt for brown or whole-grain breads, rice and pasta when available.
- Add some barley or quinoa to a bowl of canned or homemade soup to give it more texture and a boost of fibre.
Whilst it is most ideal to obtain fibre from the food you consume, we stock a wide range of fibre-rich products in our pharmacies. For constipation relief, you can read this article for more information on products. Please consult your pharmacist should you need any further advice.