Pros and Cons of a High Fibre Diet
Most people I see still do not have enough fibre in their diet
Fibre is really important for many reasons such as keeping your digestive system regular and removing toxins (including excess cholesterol and oestrogen).
Fibre can also be an appetite suppressant.
However if you are not used to eating fibre it is recommended always to gradually increase it in your diet otherwise it can make you feel bloated and gassy as your body readjusts.
You also need to increase your water intake, which is soaked up by the fibre to help it move through the body with ease.
You may also need to avoid a high fibre diet in the short term i.e. two to four weeks maximum if you have IBS or Ulcerative Colitis.
It’s important to get help from a health professional to help manage your diet and fibre intake.
The recommended daily amount of fibre is approximately 24g.
Going back to the stone age; double the amount of fibre was needed – up to 46g per day!
Since then our body’s have got used to eating higher amounts of meat, and an increase in processed foods such as bread and biscuits containing white flour which lacks fibre!
To maintain a diet with 24g of fibre you need to be eating at least three portions of high fibre grains daily: from wheat, oats and rice plus five portions of fruit and vegetables.
To increase to 46g, doubling the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten would be necessary.
You would also need to increase fibre intake by turning to vegetarian sources of protein such as beans and lentils.
This may be worth trying intermittently every three months as a seasonal detox.
How you put your meals together is important.
Be careful that you don’t over-do the ratio of high fibre foods in a meal, particularly wheat based fibre which is high in a compound called phytates.
Phytates can block absorption of nutrients.
Particularly the minerals calcium and iron which are important for bone health and energy.
So if you have Weetabix or toast at breakfast it’s important to combine it with some fruit or seeds as sources of vitamins and well as fibre.
Be careful not to eat excess amounts of fruit as the sugar content along with fibre can increase bloating, gas and weight!
Two to three pieces of fruit spread out over the day is more than enough.
There are 2 types of fibre
Insoluble fibre acts like a brush and keeps the muscles working in the colon.
Insoluble fibre is found in wheat and rye. So most wholemeal bread, brown pasta and rice will contain it.
It is not broken down in the digestive system so provides fullness with minimal calories.
Soluble fibre is sticky and helps soak up toxins such as excess cholesterol and oestrogen.
Soluble fibre helps these toxins to be removed via the large colon. Soluble fibre is found in oats, peas, beans and fruit such as chickpeas bananas, lemon and orange skins.
To help fibre do its job adequate water is required, otherwise you will feel very bloated and constipated. Even when you make porridge with water you will see how it sets, forming a sticky gel.
Psyllium husks are a fibre supplement that forms a gel in water. If you swallow the capsules without enough water, i.e. a glassful then again you will feel bloated and uncomfortable.
Keep in proportion
You should aim to eat 3 to 4 portions of vegetables daily.
A portion being 80g in weight or the equivalent to 1 cupful.
Below is an example meal plan showing good amounts of fibre per meal.
1 x portion of grains i.e.40g oats, or 2 weetabix plus half a cup of blueberries and 2 dsp of seeds: 8g to 10g fibre
Smoothie with kale, celery, cucumber, 1 tbsp of chia seeds sweetened with coconut water: 8g fibre
Large green salad with lemon juice and olive oil dressing: 8g fibre
Butternut Squash Soup with 1 slice of 100% heavy rye bread: 8g fibre
Stir fry with broccoli, spinach, peppers and mange tout with a chickpea burger sandwich with 2 slices of butternut squash: 14g fibre
Roasted sweet potato with tomatoes, courgettes and red onions cooked in coconut oil or olive oil with 1 ramekin of quinoa and 1 cup of cooked lentils, flavoured with freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice: 10g to 12g fibre
The above menu will give you between 26 to 32g fibre daily! So stay regular and energised with a good balance of fibre!
If you suffer from digestive problems such as IBS then please contact me direct to arrange a personalised nutrition programme.
Connect with Expert Judy Watson