Focus on Fibre

Fibre or dietary fibre is the part of food that is not digested in the small intestine. Dietary fibre moves largely unchanged into the large intestine or colon where it is fermented by friendly bacteria that live there. Including enough fibre in our diets is primarily essential for healthy bowel function, but studies have also found that getting your a diet high in fibre can help reduce the risks of certain health issues such as cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke and obesity.

Health benefits

There are different types of fibre and each play a different role in promoting good health. Soluble fibre can help lower cholesterol, improve glucose control and maintain healthy bowel function. Insoluble fibre aids in maintaining bowel health and regularity. Resistant starch is a pre-biotic fibre which can promote good bacteria production and also been found to help improve blood glucose control.  It is important to include a variety of fibres in your diet.

Good Sources of Fibre

  • Soluble: Legumes, lentils, oats, barley, fruit & vegetable flesh, Oat bran, rice bran, psyllium husks
  • Insoluble: Wheat bran, wholegrain breads & cereals, fruit & vegetable skins, nuts, seeds
  • Resistant starch: cooked & cooled potato and rice, al dente pasta, under ripe bananas, ‘Hi-maize’

Are you eating enough?

It is recommended that women consume 25g fibre/day and men 30g fibre/day to promote good health.

Tips for increasing dietary fibre intake

  • Include 2 pieces of fruit and 5 serves of vegetable each day. Consume the skins on fruit and vegetables where possible
  • Choose whole fruits and vegetables rather than juices
  • Add legumes, lentils or barley to soups, casseroles and sauces
  • Use hummus (chickpea dip) on sandwiches or wraps instead of margarine/butter
  • Choose wholegrain or wholemeal breads and cereals.
  • If you dislike wholemeal/grain bread or have difficulty chewing grains, a high fibre white bread is a suitable alternative
  • Add bran or psyllium husk to breakfast cereals
  • Include nuts or seeds as a snack or add to breakfast cereals

Considerations when increasing fibre

  • Increase the amount of fibre in your diet slowly. A quick change from a low-fibre to a high-fibre diet can cause gas, cramps and bloating.
  • A high-fibre diet may not prevent or cure constipation unless you drink enough water every day. If very high fibre foods are not accompanied by enough fluid, it may cause abdominal discomfort or constipation.

Example of High vs Low Fibre Eating Plan

Low Fibre Eating Plan

  • Breakfast: 1 x cup cornflakes, 1 x white toast, 1 x glass orange juice
  • Snack: 4 white crispbread biscuits
  • Lunch: Ham & cheese white bread sandwich
  • Snack: 2 x sweet biscuits
  • Dinner: 1 x fillet steak, 1 medium peeled potato, 1 small peeled carrot and ½ cup peas
  • Sweet/Supper: 2 scoops icecream

TOTAL FIBRE 14 grams

High Fibre Eating Plan

  • Breakfast: ½ cup untoasted muesli, 1 x slices wholemeal/grain bread, 1 x whole orange
  • Snack: 4 x Vita-wheat biscuits
  • Lunch: Ham and salad (lettuce, tomato, beetroot and cucumber) Wholemeal bread sandwich
  • Snack: 1 x banana
  • Dinner: 1 x filler steak, 1 x medium potato with skin on, 1 x small carrot with skin on, ½ cup broccoli and ½ cup cauliflower
  • Snack: ¼ cup nuts

TOTAL FIBRE 38 grams

References:

Baker IDI Fibre Facts Factsheet https://www.bakeridi.edu.au/Assets/Files/Fibre%20Sept%202011.pdf

DAA Smart Eating for You website http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fibre/

Better Health Channel Fibre in Food http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Fibre_in_food?OpenDocument

Fibre