Have you spent a fortune on gut powders and supplements? Maybe bought a 'gut-healthy diet plan'? What if I told you to improve the health of your gut all you really need to do is focus on including one key nutrient into your diet...fibre! Yep, it's that simple (and sooo much cheaper!). Let's deep dive into why more fibre is healthy!
HOW MUCH FIBRE SHOULD WE EAT?
It is recommended we eat 25-30g of fibre per day. A high fibre diet (50g day) won't stop us absorbing other important nutrients such as iron. We currently eat about 20g in adults and 18g in kids fibre per day (1).
There are 3 different types of fibre and all are important: soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.
For me, this means including
1/4 of my plate as fibre foods.
This way, it's flexible if you want to have:
Add some fruit
Extra fats...let's be real...more avo!
Add or have no grains (in that particular meal, I don't recommend removing grains from your diet)
Some starchy veg (potato, sweet potato, peas, corn, pumpkin)
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN FIBRE?
Plant foods! Fibre is the part of plants that our bodies can't digest, so it moves through to the large intestine to do its thing. We don't eat fibre on its own, since it is part of carbohydrates, this is where we get our main source of energy.
Below is a list of foods which contain fibre
Legumes (beans and lentils)
Unrefined (Wholegrain) cereals eg. breads, pasta
Unrefined (Wholegrain) grains
The important thing is to eat foods which have not gone under too much processing and are not refined (a good way to see how this is more refined = bright white grains and cereals).
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING MORE FIBRE?
1. Weight Management
2. Stabilise blood sugar levels
3. Lower blood cholesterol levels
4. Regulating hormone metabolism (including oestrogen!)
5. Help everything move through - this also helps to move the fermentable fibre to the gut bacteria at the end of your intestine
6. Prevention of some Cancers
7. Strengthens immune system
Essentially, it helps us healthy, regulate hormones & poop!
NOT ALL FIBRE IS EQUAL
Each group of fibre (soluble, insoluble & resistant starch) has a particular role to play in improving the health of our gut, however, unless you have been recommended to have say psyllium husk, we rarely eat a particular type of fibre in isolation, most foods contain a combination of both or all three. Therefore, don't focus solely on the nitty gritty ie. getting more insoluble fibre or resistant starch, take a step back focus on eating the food in its whole, natural form, that way you will know your gut is getting some love!
WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?
Fermentable fibres which are food for our gut bacteria, these are found in resistant starch, some soluble fibres, polyphenols (antioxidants). The gut bacteria is important because:
Produces vitamins and minerals (such as Vit K)
Regulates blood sugar levels
Hormone metabolism and balance
MORE FIBRE + MORE WATER
Drink at least 2L of water each day if you are eating more fibre this will help improve digestion and prevent constipation.
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PLEASE NOTE | IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR GUT, PLEASE TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR OR A DIETITIAN WHO SPECIALISES IN GUT HEALTH AS MORE FIBRE MAY MAY NOT BE BENEFICIAL FOR YOU.
THIS ADVICE IS FOR THE GENERAL POPULATION, IF YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY YOUR DOCTOR OR DIETITIAN TO FOLLOW A LOW FIBRE DIET, THIS INFORMATION IS NOT RELEVANT TO YOU.
Work with a dietitian trained in gut health who can help you identify which fibre-filled foods with be best for you.
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