If there is one thing you want to focus on to make your gut happy is getting enough fibre into your day. Now when I used to hear the word “fibre” I thought granny undies and bland food - but I promise you a diet high in fibre should be full of flavour, colour and texture!
So what is fibre? It is the non digestible carbohydrates found in food and can be classed as either insoluble or soluble. Soluble means the fibre is dissolved by water and metabolised by your good bacteria in your gut and insoluble - as the name suggests, doesn’t dissolve! When you’re thinking about what foods are high in fibre you need to be thinking plant based foods such as wholegrains, pulses, beans, lentils, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
This nutrient influences the transit of food through the digestive tract and has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer (Dietary Fibre, 2006) (Reynolds et al., 2019). However, according to findings from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (SACN Carbohydrates and Health Report, 2015) it appears that most of us do not get enough fibre in our diet as only 10% of adults eat the recommended 30g per day!!
Try these ideas to increase the fibre in your day:
1. Increase your veggies
This is literally the easiest thing anyone can do for their gut health! The recommended daily intake is 5 serves a day - with 1 serve being equal to a cup of salad or 1/2 cup of cooked veggies! Vegetables are rich in fibre and in some cases this fibre acts as a prebiotic supporting the growth of bacteria in the gut (see below). If bloating is an issue then you may want to steer clear of eating large amounts of typically ‘windy’ vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts.
2. Love your legumes
Beans, lentils and pulses are not a common choice for many of us but are one of the richest sources of dietary fibre. Hugely versatile, they can be used as a base for vegetarian meals or added to salads, soups, one-pot dishes and made into dips. If you’re new to these foods, then introduce them slowly as they can cause a little bloating at first.
3. Whole Grains
These include oats, brown rice, barley and rye. Unlike refined (processed) grains the bran and germ remain intact so they are higher in fibre and other key nutrients. Pseudo-grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth are also high in fibre and can make an interesting alternative to traditional grains. You will just need to tweak this if you are going gluten free.