Over the coming months we’re going to give a big shout out to the things we LOVE for their gut-friendly benefits. Today we’re talking the F word… Fibre
What is fibre?
Good question. Fibre is the edible part of plant foods that we don’t fully digest. It’s found in the skins, pips, flesh and shells of cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses (aka beans and lentils).
There are two types of fibre – insoluble and soluble. Our bodies can’t digest insoluble fibre, so it works like a broom, sweeping waste through our digestive system, adding bulk to our poo. Soluble fibre dissolves in the digestive system, becoming gummy. It helps soften our poo and regulates cholesterol levels.
High fibre foods typically contain a mix of insoluble and soluble fibre, which is helpful, as we need both.
Why does Symprove LOVE fibre?
Most of us know that fibre helps us to open our bowels (poo) regularly, helping to prevent constipation. Experts also believe high fibre diets protect against bowel cancer, because they lessen the amount of time harmful waste products stay in contact with the lining of our bowel.
But fibre has other important benefits too – like feeding your gut bacteria. Because fibre isn’t digested and absorbed in the small intestine, it passes to the large intestine where it provides energy for the helpful bacteria that live there. The bacteria feast on fibre, turning it into beneficial compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects. These compounds help to keep our digestive system healthy.
Studies show eating a fibre rich diet can boost the numbers of helpful bacteria in the gut1, where as not getting enough fibre can have the opposite effect2,3, leading to a less diverse microbiome. This means eating a fibre-rich diet is one step you can take to maintaining a healthy gut.
How much fibre should I LOVE?
Current guidelines recommend that healthy adults (16 +) aim for 30 grams of fibre a day. Most of us don’t get anywhere near that much – last estimates show adults in the UK manage around 18 grams, so there’s room to improve the F factor.
An easy place to start is keep a food diary for a couple of days and see where you can add more fibre – start with a change to your breakfast, then add your next swap a week later.
Another tip is to compare the fibre content of foods by checking the ‘per 100 grams’ info – a food is high in fibre if it contains 6 grams of fibre or more. See how your breakfast cereal compares, or if you could switch your bread to one with higher fibre content.
How can I add more fibre to my diet?
You can boost your fibre intake by…
- -Getting at least 5 portions of fruit and veggies a day
- -Adding berries or sliced fruit and seeds to cereal
- -Choosing oats for breakfast
- -Eat veggies and potatoes with their skins on
- -Stirring linseeds into yoghurt
- -Choosing wholemeal, wholegrain or rye bread
- -Adding extra vegetables to pasta sauces
- -Adding lentils or beans to salads, soups, stews
- -Snacking on veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds or oaty-based bars
Don’t forget to take it slowly, and LOVE water too!
If you are increasing your fibre intake, do so slowly over the space of a few weeks and make sure you drink plenty of water to give your digestive system time to adjust. Without water, fibre can’t do its job properly!
What about if I have IBS or a bowel condition?
If you have IBS or a bowel condition like Crohn’s, eating lots of fibre (especially insoluble fibre from wholegrain cereals, and breads, seeds and skins) isn’t always helpful, as it can make symptoms like wind, bloating and diarrhoea worse.
If this sounds familiar, advice from a nutritionist or dietitian can help you to adjust the amount of fibre in your diet according to your symptoms.
|Food||Serving size||Fibre content|
|Chickpeas||Half a can||5g|
|Lentils||Half a can||7g|
|Linseeds||1 tbsp. / 10g||3g|
|Jumbo Porridge Oats||50g||5g|
|Wholegrain bread||2 slices||5g|
|Rye bread||1 x 50g slice||4g|
1. Tap J, Furet JP, Bensaada M, et al. Gut microbiota richness promotes its stability upon increased dietary fibre intake in healthy adults. Environ. Microbiol. 2015;17(12):4954-4964. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13006.
2. Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, et al. A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell 2016;167(5):1339-1353.e21. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.043.
3. De Filippis F, Pellegrini N, Vannini L, et al. High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. Gut 2016;65(11). doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309957.