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Top sources of fibre

Dietary fibre is a must-have component in our diet. Over and over again research has proven that it makes us healthier, prevents certain diseases and helps us to live longer.

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Take a look at the range of possible health benefits and you’ll see why it is so important:

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke by influencing blood fats
  • Reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by influencing blood glucose levels
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk of bowel cancer
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer
  • Improves weight control
  • Improves bowel habit
  • Improves immunity by nourishing our gut bacteria
  • Keeps you feeling fuller for longer

There are two types of fibre and both play a role in your health:

  1. Soluble fibre dissolves in water during digestion and forms a gel-like substance. Soluble fibre slows the digestion of food, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and plays a role in lowering cholesterol. It is found in fruit, vegetables, beans pulses and peas.
  2. Insoluble passes through your digestive system without being broken down. It adds bulk to the stool and helps food to pass through the digestive tract. It is found in the outer casing of wholegrains and the skins of vegetables and fruit. It helps to prevent constipation and is a food source for the healthy bacteria in the gut.

The NHS recommends an intake of 30g per day but the reality is that people eat closer to 18g per day. It isn’t difficult to increase fibre intake, it just requires a little thought and a few swaps or additions to your menu. This chart highlights the best sources.

Here are a few fibre-rich menu ideas:

Breakfast

· Start the day with a fibre rich breakfast cereal made up of wholegrain barley, rye, wheat or oats such as muesli, Shredded Wheat or 2 Weetabix and top with some berries

· Have some wholegrain toast and spread with a nut butter such as low sugar peanut butter or almond butter

· Soak chia seeds in water for 15 minutes then add to oat or quinoa porridge

Lunch

· Choose wholemeal, granary or seeded bread for your sandwich and add some salad (tomato, lettuce and cucumber) to your filling

· Add some chickpeas or lentils to soup

· Make a frittata with added tomato and spinach

· A 3-bean salad with some lean chicken

· A Jacket potato and low sugar baked beans

· Sprinkle some cooked lentils or chickpeas over a salad

Dinner

· Add as many veggies to your meal as you can. Frozen is just as nutritious.

· Use prepared bags of veg if you’re short of time

· Eat potatoes either baked in their skins or boiled new potatoes with skins

· Replace mashed white potato with sweet potato

· Make a stir-fry and add lots of vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrot strips or red pepper

· Add carrots, celery, onions, beetroot, kale or cabbage to casseroles and curries

· Add lentils, chickpeas, butter beans or broad beans to a ratatouille mix to accompany the meat of your choice

· Have a chilli con carne with kidney beans and brown rice

· Cook wholewheat spaghetti to accompany a Bolognese sauce

· A mixed vegetable curry

Snack

· A small handful of unsalted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachio, Brazil)

· A small handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds

· Some carrot or celery sticks with hummus

· An apple or pear with the skin on

· An oatcake with some rollmop herring

· Dark rye crispbread with some slices of avocado or guacamole dip

· Freshly air-popped popcorn

· Small plain live yogurt with some raspberries, blackberries or blueberries

Learn more about healthy eating in my best-selling book How to Prevent Burnoutand my latest book, ‘Life Force. The revolutionary 7-step plan for optimum energy’.

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