What is fibre?
Fibre is a component of all plant materials and is mainly composed of types of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest or absorb.
How much fibre do I need each day?
The recommended intake for Australian adults is 25-30g of fibre each day. On average, most Australians consume 18-25g of fibre each day.
According to the Gut Foundation, Australian adult men report eating foods that contain 26g and women report 20g of fibre each day.
Fibre is important throughout the entire lifespan, different stages in life present different physiological changes and therefore may require greater attention to fibre intake such as pregnancy and advancing age.
Fibre can be divided into two groups – soluble and insoluble
Soluble fibre is a type of dietary fibre that dissolves in water (forming a gel-like substance) and is more easily digested. Good sources of soluble fibre include: fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium husks, dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, soymilk and other soy products.
When combined with water, soluble fibre forms a gel-like material that can help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. This type of fibre is therefore best for improving blood sugar levels and can help stabilise blood glucose levels.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is not easily digested. Good sources include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the outer skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and dried beans.
How do I get enough fibre in my diet?
The secret to getting enough fibre is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of wholefoods.
A diet based on wholefoods will be more likely to provide a person with the recommended amount of dietary fibre than a diet based on highly processed foods.
Wholefoods include: wholegrains (oats, rice, barley) fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Aim for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day and chances are you’ll meet your dietary fibre requirements.
How can fibre assist with energy levels?
If you’re looking for longer lasting energy, remember soluble fibre slows the rate of absorption of sugar, and can even out your energy levels by preventing this ‘sugar high and crash’
Eating a whole apple will provide similar calories (KJ) to a person that a glass of apple juice would, however the whole apple is a better choice as it will provide insoluble, soluble fibre and longer lasting energy.
TIP: You don't need to eat more foods or consume more energy to increase your fibre intake
You can easily double your fibre intake without increasing your energy or kilojoule (KJ) intake by swapping some of the basic foods you eat during the day. By consuming a diet high in fibre-rich foods, you may even end up consuming fewer kilojoules, which can help when it comes to weight maintenance.
Easy ways to get your 30g of fibre a day!
> Kick-start your day with a fibre rich cereal
> Make the switch from white to wholegrain with breads, rice and cereal products
> Go mental with lentils! Add lentils and legumes to soups, salads and casseroles
> Put down the peeler – much fibre is found just underneath the skin of fruits and vegetables, so don’t peel away the goodness
> Snack on nuts and seeds throughout the day
> If you are short of time and unable to eat enough foods containing fibre, try taking a supplement like Metamucil to meet your requirements