Fibre & the gut – what, why and how?
Fibre is key to our digestion and general health. We support the Nutritank movement in their current aim to get more nutrition modules into the medical curriculum and enable doctors to impart to patients an awareness of the importance of diet and gut health. Let us “break down” fibre into the whats, whys and hows.
What is fibre?
Fibre is a carbohydrate found in plant foods, which cannot be broken down by our digestive system. We find it in fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, and wholegrain cereals, breads, grains, rice and pasta. There are different types of fibre and plant foods can contain a combination of different types.
What does fibre do?
Fibre draws water into the bowel which helps to expand and soften our stool. This allows it to trigger movement of the gut muscles and makes everything move much easier. Think of how your Weetabix expands and absorbs milk!
Certain fibres also act a prebiotic for our bacteria in our gut which means they are food for our gut bacteria. When our gut bacteria break down certain fibres, they produce short chain fatty acids. These are the main source of food for the cells in your gut and may also play an important role in reducing the risk of inflammatory disease, obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Fibre… [triggers] the movement of the gut muscles and makes everything move much easier”
What are the benefits of fibre?
Fibre has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers and consuming wholegrain cereals is associated with a lower risk of mortality from any cause. It is likely that our gut bacteria and short chain fatty acids play an important role in this. Fibre helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, helps to maintain good blood sugar control (prevents 11am sugar cravings) and helps keep you fuller for longer.
Am I getting enough fibre?
Unfortunately, most people do not eat enough fibre. We should be aiming for 30 grams of fibre daily but the average adult in the UK currently consumes just 60%! To increase your fibre intake, aim for one portion at a time. Too much all at once can cause bloating, constipation and basically an uncomfortable tummy. Drink plenty of water to help with this.
I usually encourage my clients to pick one main meal eg. dinner and add one plant based food to that meal for a few days. Try adding a portion of veg or beans to a curry. Keep it simple. Once your gut has become used to that, then add another portion into your day. Try a plant based snack such as a piece of fruit or handful of nuts. Build this up slowly over a few weeks and you’ll be giving your gut all the fibre loving goodness it needs in no time!
“Unfortunately, most people do not eat enough fibre. We should be aiming for 30 grams of fibre daily but the average adult in the UK currently consumes just 60%!”
How can The Gut Feeling help?
One thing that clients tell me over and over is that they are too busy to make lasting changes to their diet and they don’t have time to prepare meals in advance. At the Gut Feeling, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to increase your fibre intake. Our boxes contain handy snacks high in fibre and prebiotics to help you increase your fibre intake with no extra stress!
Click on the photo below to find out more about our boxes
“Our boxes contain handy snacks high in fibre and prebiotics to help you increase your fibre intake with no extra stress!”
12th February, Gut Feeling guest post written by Gemma Randles, Registered Dietitian