How to add more fibre to your diet

Written by accredited dietitian Themis Chryssidis

From Sprout Cooking School & Health Studio

Posted: Nov 16 2021

We’ve all heard that fibre is good for you, but why is this, and how can we get more fibre into our diet?

What is fibre?

Your grandparents may have referred to it as “roughage”, but these days most people know of it as fibre – the indigestible part of plant-based food. There are three types of fibre, all of which are important for our digestive health. These include:

  • Insoluble fibre – found in the skins of fruits, vegetables and bran. Insoluble fibre is good for preventing constipation, and helps to speed up digestion.
  • Soluble fibre – found in wheat bran, and the inside of some fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre helps in the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
  • Resistant starch – the so-called “new kid on the block”, found in oats, lentils and white beans. We need resistant starch to support the good bacteria in our gut.

“Resistant starch is also found in foods such as rice, potatoes and pasta which is cooked and then cooled,” Themis Chryssidis, dietitian and Managing Director of Sprout Health School, says. “When consumed in a warm state, the starch in these foods is easily digested, but when cooked and cooled the chemical structure of the starch changes, making it less digestible – which is good for our gut.”

Why do we need fibre?

Fibre is essential in our bodies to help regulate many areas of our digestive system. A good fibre intake has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. It also helps to maintain bowel movements that are soft, but well formed.

“Fibre is fundamental to good health,” Themis says. “As well as the known benefits for disease prevention, fibre helps us to feel fuller for longer, which means we are more likely to make healthy food choices when it comes to reaching for a snack.”

How to get more fibre in your diet

It’s recommended that adults consume around 25-30 grams of fibre a day. If you are eating your 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day then you are already most of the way there. But, only 7%* of Australian adults eat the recommended fruit and veg servings.

“If you want to increase your fibre intake, then eating more fruits and vegetables is an easy place to start,” Themis says. “Make vegetables the hero of your meal, and focus on less refined foods. The more it looks like a seed, or a grain, or something that grows from the ground, the better it is for you. Including nuts, seeds, wholegrains, quinoa and legumes in your diet are all great ways to increase your fibre intake and improve your gut health.”

Starting your day with oats and then reaching for fruits or vegetables as snacks throughout the day is a good way to go. Also, keeping your fruits and vegetables unpeeled is recommended as the skin is where the majority of the fibre is stored.

Healthy swaps

Simple changes in your diet can make a big difference. Next time you’re reaching for white, processed food, think about opting for the wholegrain alternative. For example:

  • Brown rice for white rice
  • Wholegrain bread for white bread
  • Wholemeal, or pulse pasta for refined pasta
  • Quinoa for burghul
  • Baked potato for chips

“Variety really is the key when it comes to eating a healthy and balanced diet,” Themis says. “If you are feeling good, then you’re more likely to eat better and exercise more, putting you in a more positive frame of mind. Engaging in better choices leads to improvements all round.”

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Posted: Nov 16 2021


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