Current trends are pushing us in the direction of counting macro nutrients for a balanced and healthy diet. But what about the fibre intake? Is everyone aware of how much fibre one should really eat daily?
Some fibres act as prebiotic, meaning they promote healthy gut bacteria. Eating enough fibre has the benefits of reducing the risk of constipation and help with weight loss and maintenance. Studies also shows it may lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Yet most people aren’t aware of what amount of fibre intake they actually need on a daily basis.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women.
We’ve listed the facts and the tips on how to make sure you include enough fibre in your diet.
1. Eat Whole-Food Carbs
Examples of whole-foods include fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains. All of these naturally contain fibre. These carbs helps you feel fuller longer because of its high content of fibre.
Most carbs break down into sugar while fibre stays intact as it passes through your digestive system. This also helps regulate your blood sugar levels, since it slows the time it takes digestible carbs to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
2. Eat your Veggies First
Most of us know eating lots of vegetables is good for you, one benefit it has is that they lower your risk of several chronic diseases.
Why should you eat your veggies first? The answer is easy – it’s a good strategy for eating more of them. Simple as that.
A study showed women eating their salad before a meal ate 23% more vegetables than those served salad together with the meal.
3. Choose Whole Grains over Refined Grains
Whole grains are minimally processed, leaving the whole grain intact. Refined grains have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fibre-rich hull.
In addition to oatmeal or brown rice, try
- Bulgur wheat
- Wheat berries
4. Include Chia Seeds in your diet
Chia seeds are nutritional superfoods. They provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as 11 grams of fibre per ounce.
These tiny seeds gel in water and are 95% insoluble fibre, meaning they help keep your digestive tract moving. Eating chia seeds is also linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
Other seeds, such as flax, sesame and hemp, have smilier nutrition profiles and are also smart choices.
5. Eat Whole Fruits and Vegetables
Instead of only drinking their juices! Indeed, juice can have high amounts of micronutrients, but once being stripped of the pulp it’s left with a concentration of carbs only, specifically in the form of sugar.
While vegetable juices have less sugar than fruit juices, they have far less fibre than what you get from eating whole vegetables for just the same reason as previously mentioned.
6. Eat Avocados
This creamy, amazingly yummy fruit is full of healthy properties. It’s not only rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it’s also packed with fibre.
In fact, a normal sized avocado contains five grams of fibre. These fruits have been linked to improve heart health and overall improvement in diet quality and nutrient intake.
7. Bake with High-Fibre Flours
In most baking recipes flour can be found as one of the ingredients. Instead of choosing a white flour, choose a flour which will add extra nutrition to your baking.
White flour can easily be replace with whole-wheat pastry flour, coconut flour or oatmeal flour.
Several non-wheat flours have three grams of fibre per ounce – the same as whole wheat flour. These include almond, hazelnut, chickpea, buckwheat, and barley flours.
8. Eat more Berries
Berries with seeds are amongst the most fibre-rich fruits. To receive the most fibre, choose raspberries or blackberries which both contains 8 grams per cup. Other berries are strawberries (3 grams) and blueberries (4 grams).
Berries also tend to have less sugar than other fruits. Add them to your bowl of cereals in the morning, in your salad for lunch, or with greek yoghurt for a healthy afternoon snack. Frozen and fresh berries are equally healthy!
9. Leave the Peel and Skin
When the peel or the skin is removed from your apples, potatoes, and cucumbers you often remove half of the fibres. For example, one small apple has 4 grams of fibre but if you peeled the apple it only has 2 grams.
So next time you are using any of these to eat or cook, leave the peel!
10. Start Reading the Labels
As previously mentioned, the best way to get fibre is through whole plant foods. However, if you are going to eat processed foods, you may as well choose products that are rich in fibre.
Yogurt, granola bars, cereals and soups, are some examples of foods with functional fibres added to them. These fibres are extracted from natural sources and then added to foods as supplement. Common names of these are Inulin and Polydextrose.
But the best tip out there, is to start reading the nutrition label to see how many grams of fibre there is in a serving. A good measurement to go by is 2.5 grams per serving or more is considered a good amount, and 5 grams or more is excellent.
11. Include Legumes
Examples of legumes are beans, dried peas and lentils. They are rich in fibre, protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. In fact, a cup of cooked beans can deliver up to 75% of your daily fibre need.
Replacing meat with legumes in a few meals per week has been linked to increased life span and decreased risk of several chronic diseases.
These are some examples on how to increase legume consumption:
- Use hummus and other bean dips.
- Add mashed or whole beans to ground beef dishes.
- Top salads with cooked beans or lentils.
12. Eat High-Fibre Foods at Every Meal
Best way to make sure you get enough fibre throughout the day is to try and include a little bit in every meal.
Here is one example of how:
- Breakfast: Choose a high-fiber cereal or oatmeal and add berries and seeds.
- Snack: Pair raw vegetables with bean dip or raw fruit with nut butter.
- Lunch: Have a salad. If you make a sandwich, choose 100% whole-grain bread.
- Dinner: Add beans and other vegetables to casseroles and stews. Try a variety of cooked whole grains.