Boost your fibre intake to reduce the risk of disease

Pantothenic acid


Fibre is all over the papers this week and there are lots of goods reasons for that. Firstly, fibre can support our gut health and reduce the risk of chronic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Secondly, we don’t get enough roughage in our modern and more-processed-than-ever diet and lastly because of the impact of low-carb and veggie-poor diets.

Fibre improves hormonal balance:

Fibre facilitates the excretion of excess oestrogen. Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs for short) are produced as the result of fibre fermentation and reduce levels of bacteria that produce β-glucuronidase, an enzyme which can decouple oestrogen, freeing it up to be reabsorbed and therefore unbalance our oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels.

Fibre also facilitates the excretion of toxins after the liver has metabolised them, supports healthy gut bacteria and keeps you fuller for longer and therefore helps control sugar cravings and keeps you regular.

Lastly, fibre facilitates excretion of testosterone and testosterone via increased sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)

Soluble vs insoluble fibre

Soluble fibre is water-soluble and turns into a gel-like substance, slowing down the movement of food through the small intestine so we can absorb nutrients more effectively. Soluble fibre reduces reabsorption of bile so we excrete more and the body has to produce more from LDL cholesterol, reducing its levels in the body. Soluble fibre also support your gut bacteria balance. Sources of soluble fibre are: whole-grain cereals, many vegetables and fruit with skin, nuts and seeds especially linseed/flaxseed and chia seeds.

Insoluble fibre speeds up intestinal transit and promotes regularity. Sources of soluble fibre include oats, peas, beans, apples, nuts, seeds especially ground linseed/flaxseed and chia seeds and citrus fruits: one portion (closed fist) provides 1-3g of soluble fibre. Oats, barley and psyllium, mushrooms, seaweed, and are high in beta-glucan, a soluble form of fibre, which reduces cholesterol.

Carbs and fibre

So let’s talk about carbs, shall we? Because not all carbs are equal. Take white bread, for example, it contains next to no-fibre which makes your body absorb the glucose from the carbs really quickly. What’s wrong with that? Two things: it requires large amounts of insulin to deal with the sugar influx (do this regularly overtime and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes sky rockets) and your energy levels fluctuate like mad, which basically make you crave more sugar or refined carbs to keep functioning.
Now, wholegrains (wholemeal bread, brown pasta and rice, baked potatoes)  are quite different in that respect. Because they contain fibre and have been less processed so they contains more nutrients including B vitamins
that support energy production. So the fibre slows down how you absorb the sugar (glucose) from the bread and you get a steady influx of energy and…less sugar cravings!
I’m not against low-carb diets. In fact I have cut down wheat myself (too much makes make bloat!)  and recommend gluten free diets to those clients that I think may benefit from a GF diet. My issue with a low carb diet is that it can be rather low on fibre and too high in protein unless you up your veg intake to about 10 portions a day (yes, really!!) and add nuts and seeds to your meals. So if you are up for the challenge, go for it, if not wholegrains may still be your friend!

Fruit and Veg to add fibre to your daily diet

Fruit and veg are also a fabulous source of fibre but few of us reach the meagre government recommendation of 5 portions a day, let alone a health-boosting amount! Honestly, 5 portions are not going to get you there so, my advice is start looking for at least 7 a day….does that sound too much?? Why not breaking it down to 2-3 per meal, that’s not so bad, is it?

 Veggie protein sources are also high in fibre

Seeds and nuts are also a fantastic source of fibre and other nutrients like good fats and minerals so be sure to include them in your diet daily.
And let’s not forget about veggie protein sources like beans and pulses which also contain generous amounts of fibre.

How to increase your fibre intake – easily:

So, how to make getting your daily 30g (or more!) of fibre a doddle??

Start the day with a wholegrain like porridge or muesli, seeds and nuts and a good helping of berries. If you are a toast fan, move to wholegrain and seeded breads.

Make green butter – Yeap, use avocado instead of butter and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Yuuum!!

Boost Your Energy Naturally: Foods To Keep You Going All Day!

Snack on carrots and hummus, oatcakes and nut butter, popcorn or make your own energy bars.

Ensure your lunch contains a wholegrain cereal and 2-3 vegetables (more if you are avoiding carbs!)

Come to dinner, have a portion of good protein and ensure 1/2-3/4 of your plate are veg – the more colours the better

Pushed for time?? Still no excuse to go low in fibre.

1- Try to make a smoothie for breakfast with 3 or more fruit and veg.

2- Make veggie packed soups and freeze them in lunch size containers to take to work

3- Carry nuts and seeds with you to avoid snacking on sugary stuff

Veggie Leftover Makeover

4- Swap your animal protein for beans and pulses 3x a week – bean stews or salads, hummus, minestrone.

5- When eating out, forget about the bread basket if it’s all pale looking. Check out the sides menu and order a couple of veg to go wih your main and make sure your starter has at least one veggie in it.

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