I’ve been going on about it a lot recently, not sure what’s come over me. I always get mini obsessions over one thing. And that thing recently is fibre.
If you’re anything like me, when you picture fibre in your mind it looks like some dry coarse brown stuff given to people with bowel issues. Yupp that will get mentioned a lot in this post too. There are certain foods in the world that look like that, ground linseeds, flaxseeds or psyllium husk and if eaten in large quantities may cause you some *issues*. However fibre is usually packaged up into perfect parcels (fruit and vegetables ring any bells?), requiring a good amount of chewing action to reap the benefits.
So first of all, WHAT IS FIBRE?!?
Shout out to all the veggie lovers out there. It’s solely found in plant based foods. Keep on searching but you’ll never find it in your fillet steak or chicken drumsticks, or any egg, dairy, meat or fish produce. So there we have it, just eat more PLANTS.
There are two types of fibre found, soluble and insoluble fibre. I’m going to take you back to your GCSE Biology lessons here where I’m sure you were more preoccupied with drawing and learning certain male and lady parts rather than learning your plant cell structures. But hey ho, the knowledge might still be lurking in the recesses of your mind somewhere.
This does what it says. It dissolves in the water in your digestive system and feeds our best pals, the gut microbiota. Happy gut bacteria = happy tum. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, oats, pulses and golden linseeds would supply your buddies in your gut with all the food they need and prevent you from having an uncomfortable time on the toilet.
This is what provides the bulk to our poop (I’m trying to make it cute here, help me!). Can’t put it any other way. This roughage is made up of all the indigestible bits like cellulose in the plan cell walls and instead of dissolving it absorbs the water, and you’ll become more regular as a result. Ever noticed sweetcorn before, so that’s full of insoluble fibre, ie we don’t digest it.
Add in plenty of whole grains to your diet (the insoluble fibre is what makes brown rice brown), dried fruits, nuts and seeds and the peelings on your fruit and veg. Those potatoes that you’ve just peeled for your mash taters, the majority of the goodness has just gone in the bin. Keep things rustic, don’t peel your fruit and veg, it just requires a good wash.
Fibre is a carbohydrate and in a balanced diet we should be eating around 40% starchy carbohydrates throughout the day. All of our meals should be based around the good ol’carb.
CHEERS FROM THE CROWDS
Yes you heard me right, more pasta, rice, potatoes, bread…wait wait wait, there’s a catch right?!?
Ok you got me. Make sure they’re wholegrain.
Is that really an issue though? Just as satisfying, perhaps even tastier than their white siblings and they don’t leave you slumped on the sofa resembling a pile of mash potato.
Remember that fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates too!! Make sure to add some to every meal if you can. A bowl of pasta is a wonderful thing, but it’s made supercharged by mixing it with some courgetti or adding some lemon and olive oil dressed rocket on the side or some garlicky green beans.
So the government have upped our guidelines for the daily amount of fibre required to 30g. Sounds pretty small right? Well when the average Brit is only consuming 18g per day, evidently some changes are needed. Picture one of those Quaker Oats instant porridge sachets, there you have around 27g so just under the 30g mark. That is the amount we should be aiming for. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
But as I said before everything we eat is wrapped in this perfect package by mother nature herself (beats amazon on packaging skills hands down). So that apple you had for your elevenses (with the skin ofc), say an average sized one will contain around 4.4g of fibre. Only 13% of your daily requirements. OH DARN. That one apple also contains sugar, vitamin A and C, so keep on eating those apples they put you on the right path, we just need so much more throughout the day.
Sorry if this is sounding like mission impossible to you.
To help you out here’s some ideas to fibre up your life.
- Like porridge? Perfect. As I mentioned before oats are full of soluble fibre, but why not make them SUPER SUPER by mashing in half a banana or grating in half an apple whilst it is cooking, along with a heaped teaspoon of ground linseeds. Then top with the rest of the fruit chopped up.
- Add some chopped nuts or nut butter to your cereal, porridge, toast, whatever you feel like. They’ll add a nice crunch, protein, healthy fats and you guessed it FIBRE.
- Add dried fruit to your cereal or porridge, things like raisins, prunes, dates, apricots, cranberries, figs. Just make sure they don’t have any sugar added, you’re sweet enough.
- Feel like some toast? Make sure its a wholegrain one, or spelt and rye are great alternatives.
- If you’re still struggling to stray from the cereal box aisle, opt for the plainer cereals like Weetabix and Shredded Wheat. They contain the least amount of added sugar (if any) and can be topped so many ways to add some spice to your mornings.
- Veggies, veggies and more veggies. I can’t stress how important it is to eat as many vegetables as possible. Make sure they make up 40% of your daily diet.
- Fancy a bowl of pasta? Opt for the wholegrain version.
- Noodles? Again choose wholegrain or udon or soba noodles which tend to contain some buckwheat flour.
- Be adventurous with your grains: red, black, brown or wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, freekeh, pearl barley, spelt, buckwheat. They all have different flavours so experiment to find the grains you like.
- Add beans or lentils to your salads to bulk them up, keep you full and add more, what’s that? Oh yes, fibre!
- Need a hug in the form of a jacket potato and beans? The classic combination is full of fibre, a classic for a reason. Make it either a regular or sweet one, eat the skin, and top with your beans. To push it even further into super territory, serve with a green salad or some steamed greens.
- Got a bowl of soup? Great, all those veggies means it is already full of fibre but eat it with a hunk of wholegrain bread or add a few spoons of cooked grain to the bottom of your bowl before slurping it up.
- Want to fancify your salad? Grab some green leaves, add some roasted veg, add some raw veg either grated or chopped up, mix in some cooked grains, beans or lentils, sprinkle with dried fruit and chopped nuts and then mix well in your favourite dressing. Fibre festival in a bowl.
- Spag bol for dinner or shepherds pie? Halve the amount of minced meat you would usually use and bulk it up with a tin of beans or lentils. Adding in a portion of veg and extra fibre whilst reducing the amount of saturated fat, can you get any better than that?
- Serve your curry with wholegrain rice or a wholegrain roti and bulk up the curry with some sweet/normal potatoes, or anything else lurking in your veg drawer.
- Meat Free Monday, why not meat free Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. No matter what day it is make a hearty veggie dish such as a chilli, dahl, tagine, lasagne powered up with beans like cannellini or butter beans or red lentils and puy lentils.
And for those bits in between:
- Keep it simple with a piece of fruit, bananas, apple, pears and oranges. At certain times of year go for the seasonal favourites, figs, persimmons, berries. Want it supercharged? Dip your apple slices in a tablespoon of nut butter or have a handful of nuts or seeds on the side.
- Hummus fan? Who isn’t! Whizz up your own hummus varying the beans or simply buy a good quality shop bought one and munch with some crudites like pepper, carrots, cucumber and celery.
- A handful of edamame beans in some tamari and chilli flakes will satisfy that salty craving as well as being chockablock of fibre.
- A packet of popcorn, opt for the plain salted variety or try to seek out Propercorn, their Fiery Worcester and Sun-dried Tomato flavour is THE BEST. Or even better, make your own and go crazy with the flavourings.
- Bake up some kale chips, Tear up kale and rub in oil, some salt, a splash of balsamic vinegar and spread on baking sheet. Bake in a low oven until crunchy and no moisture remains.
- Mix up a super easy and munchable trail mix, mix any plain nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews or brazils with some seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, a mixture of dried fruits such as dates, raisins, figs, cranberries, apricots, add a handful of coconut flakes perhaps some cacao nibs. If you’re feeling a little indulgent some deep dark 70%+ chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.
After reading all of this you’re still asking WHY!?! Surely you’re not already convinced, a successful toilet trip makes us all extremely happy people… soz but it’s true.
So some scientific proof to seal the deal.
- The main reason we all know about fibre, and I’m sure the only reason why you buy bran flakes from the supermarket (they taste like cardboard basically torture in a bowl) it prevents you getting constipated. MARVELLOUS. Or shall we say it promotes regular bowel movements, better now?
- A diet high in fibre prevents certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer which is the most common cancer in the UK.
- Fibre in the diet is proven to reduce obesity levels. By keeping you fuller for longer and also sending a message to your brain that you are satiated so won’t feel a strong need to snack.
- Soluble fibre, in particular Beta-Glucans which are found in oats and barley lowers your cholesterol, therefore reducing your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
That’s that then. I don’t have much more to say about fibre, just that we all need to be eating more of it. By simply adding a portion of vegetables to your lunch or dinner, a piece of fruit at breakfast, a handful of nuts for a snack…. YEPP that easy.
Remember balance my friends, if we all eat a balanced plate of fruit and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of fat we should be achieving these vital amounts of micro and macro nutrients that our bodies require to thrive.
Mashed potato, sofa dwelling monster no more!
Wishing you all to be full of beans (pun intended)