HOW TO: Is fibre MUCH more important than we realised?! And how on earth do you get ‘enough’?
Most people know that eating fibre is ‘good’ but did you know that most people don't get nearly enough, and did you know that getting the right amount can have a very powerful and positive effect not only on your digestion but even for your immunity, your child/future child’s immunity and even mental health?! (Yep….click here for more). In fact, the latest research suggests that eating enough fibre during pregnancy can have a significant impact reducing autoimmune conditions in children like Celiac for example. Click here for more. Hitting the required 25-38g/day can be tricky - especially if you dont know what that looks like in ‘real life’ (who knows how many grams are in every food?! Errrm not me). So - we tried to live it for a week to find out….
First question: how easy is it to hit that amount day to day?
The recommended intake is 25-28g a day for women and 38g a day for men but research shows most people struggle to get 17g/day. I don't know about you, but when I see these targets - especially in grams - my first thought is what does that mean in real life?! Honestly I had no idea!
So, we wanted to try and live this ourselves and bring this arbitrary number to life, so we had a week where we were super focused on hitting the number and this is how we did it.
Spoiler alert: it was much easier than I thought…. Especially as I was conscious of it.
Here’s how we did got on (hint: it’s all about finding the foods high in fibre - that you like and working them in at every opportunity - yep.. not rocket science)
Well first off, I am a big believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when I dug into it, I realised that we already manage to pack a lot in. The breakfast that Matteo and I usually have consists of oats (1x cup = 5g of fibre), flaxseed (1x tablespoon = 2g) as it is also a source of Omega 3 for brain development and berries (raspberries pack the biggest fibre punch (1x cup = 8g)). Since this experiment was about getting in as much fibre as possible, I added Chia seeds to it as well which pack quite the punch: just a teaspoon of Chia seeds = 1.3g of fibre.
So: by the end of the first meal of the day:
Total fibre = 15g - good start!
(N.b. Also in our breakfast Hazelnut milk, coconut flakes, cinnamon and a spoonful of nut butter)
What are other high fibre breakfast options are out there?
It’s boring having the same breakfast every day and not everyone likes oats (Matteo definitely goes through phases of rejecting this) so some alternatives:
Toast with avocado and egg: One slice of wholewheat bread (we also like to have toast) is 2g - same for Rye bread so two slices will get you up to 4g. To bump it up you can add the millennial Avocado: ½ an avocado is around 7g plus eggs:
Total fibre = 11g: also not bad!
If you wanted to go down the fruit salad route (we prefer not to do this as it is quite a quick release of sugar and not much fat/protein which we prefer to have in our meals - especially breakfast) then you can also do quite well on the fibre front: a pear (1x medium = 5.5g) , an apple (1x medium 4.5g with skin), strawberries (1x cup 3g) and raspberries (1x cup 8g) (all with skin on) which are in fairness all relatively lower down the sugar list:
Total fibre = 21g !!
So, you can see that if you get off to a good start then you don't actually need to do much for the next couple of meals - as lets be honest - who eats perfectly all day every day?! (We are super conscious of being healthy with food and we are certainly not saints all the time on the eating front)
Lunch and Dinner options: what we discovered is that you just need to get one meal ‘right’ on the fibre front to get your daily intake in!
We typically like to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper (n.b. Matteo will also dinner like a queen - just me who goes down the pauper route!) so lunch tends to be a decent sized affair. Here are a few of the ways we tried to eat lunch whilst getting our fibre fix:
Pea, mint and feta Quinoa: Peas are very high in fibre (1x cup is 9g), mint, feta, quinoa (1x cup is 5g). We then like to add a protein.
Total fibre = 14g
Whole Wheat pasta (cooked in meat stock) with tomato, kale, onion and garlic sauce plus Parmesan (one of Matteo’s favourites): the fibre here comes from the wholewheat pasta (1x cup is 6g), kale (1x cup of chopped = 2.5g) but the other crucial part here from an insoluble fibre (ie. prebiotic point of view) is the red onion and garlic - feeds that good bacteria inside the gut. Click here for more on that and why prebiotic fibre in particular is a good thing!
Total fibre = 8.5g
Brown rice (cooked in meat stock) with feta, avocado, red onion and kale. Once again the avocado packs the fibrous punch (½ avocado = 7g), the brown rice (1x cup 3.5g) and the kale (once again is 2.5g). This is a super filling dish too.
Total fibre = 13g
Red Lentil Fritters: another Matteo favourite: (1x cup of red lentils packs a massive 15.5g of fibre). They also contain sweet potato (1 potato = 4g) and carrots (1x cup of grated = 3g). For additional fibre keep the skin on! We like to add a protein alongside these or a salad.
Total fibre = a massive 22g!
Broccoli, pea, mint and garlic mash: super tasty and easy to do. Simply boil some broccoli and pea (once again I like to do in meat stock) add in mint, garlic and olive oil and blitz. Once again a fibre powerhouse: broccoli (1x cup 5.5g), peas (1x cup = 9g) an then your prebiotic garlic. This is typically used as an accompaniment to a protein.
Total fibre = 14.5g
If you only manage to do one fibrous meal then you can always add in some snacks to give you a boost. Here are some of our usual go-to options that are easy to do and trick the fibre box!
Lentil Chips: check out the ‘how to’ here but as before 1x cup of red lentils = 15.5g!
Popcorn: for the ‘How to’ click here (but worth noting that popcorn 3x cups = 3.5g)
The most fibrous fruit to include in your fruit ice-cream pops - click here for the ‘How to’: is raspberries (1x cup = 8g), followed by strawberries (1x cup = 3g), banana (1x medium = 3g) and a medium apple (4.5g).
Or just some good old fashioned chopped apple with peanut butter which is our regular go-to snack. Just remember once again to keep the skin on!
So, actually, it's not so hard to get your daily fibre intake and of course these foods can be mixed and matched. For a really handy guide to the best fibrous foods and exactly how much fibre per portion click here (which is a resource I use a lot). Remember one of the best sources is PREBIOTIC FIBRE - click here for more. Frankly though, what I have learnt (not rocket science and especially important for kids) is to find the fibrous foods that you enjoy and just try and incorporate them as much as you can - even just raising your consciousness about including fibre can be powerful. Once again it's not about being perfect every day (not realistic) its just about making little changes wherever we can. No downside to that!
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.