High fibre diet
Many of us don’t eat enough fibre despite it being an important nutrient that has many health benefits. In fact, most adults eat less than two thirds of the recommended daily intake.
If this is you, you might be interested in trying a high fibre diet, an eating plan that prioritises the recommended dietary fibre intake to help you stay fit and healthy. In this guide we share what fibre is, why it’s important and how to get more into your daily diet.
What is fibre?
Fibre comes from plants (such as fruit and vegetables) and plays a crucial role in our digestive health. It can’t be broken down by the body and instead passes through to the large intestine (the colon) undigested. This helps to regulate our hunger and prevents constipation.
Different types of fibre
There are two main types of fibre that each have different roles to play, so it’s important to consume them all in your diet.
- Soluble fibre dissolves in water to create a gel like substance that softens stools, aiding constipation.
- Insoluble fibre can’t be dissolved or digested. Instead, it helps to move food through the body by attracting water, making digestion quicker and stools easier to pass.
Why do we need fibre in our diets?
A high fibre diet is important for the overall digestive system but there is also strong evidence that it helps:
- Improve gut health and bowel movements
- Lower the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower the risk of certain cancers
- Control blood sugar levels
What foods are highest in fibre?
Many plant-based foods are rich in fibre including fruit and vegetables. Here are just a few to add to your healthy diet:
- Beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Apples and pears
- Whole grain foods including bread, pasta and rice
- Dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
Recommended fibre intake
In recent years, the guidance for dietary fibre intake increased as many adults and children do not eat enough fibre as part of a healthy diet:
|Age group||Recommended fibre intake|
|Children aged 2-5 years||15g per day|
|Children aged 5-11 years||20g per day|
|Children aged 11-16 years||25g per day|
|Children and adults aged 16 years +||30g per day|
How can I get more fibre in my diet?
- Have a high-fibre breakfast. Cereals made with wholewheat or wholegrain are a great source of fibre, as are porridge oats which will keep you fuller for longer.
- Eat more whole grains. Granary, wholemeal and whole wheat breads have more fibre than those made with white flour. You can also switch to brown rice, barley and bulgur wheat.
- Switch to potatoes with skins on to boost your fibre intake such as boiled or baked potatoes.
- Bulk up on beans. Add more pulses to your ingredients list such as beans, lentils and chickpeas. They’re a simple source of fibre that can be put into stews, curries and salads.
- Get your 5-a-day by adding more vegetables to each meal either as a side dish, snack or part of the recipe.
- Choose fibre-rich snacks that are easy to prepare such as veggie sticks, fresh fruit, wholegrain crackers and popcorn.
- Include fibre supplements as a part of a healthy, balanced diet to aid symptoms of discomfort and poor digestive health.
Tips for meal planning
Here are some example meals that are high in fibre which you can add to your daily meal plans.
Fibre at breakfast
- Two slices of wholegrain toast with sliced fruit
- Low fat yoghurt and an apple
- Bowl of high-fibre muesli or overnight oats
Fibre at lunch
- Jacket potato with baked beans
- Two slices of wholemeal toast topped with avocado
- Chicken and chickpea salad with leafy greens
Fibre at dinner
- Vegetable curry with wholegrain rice
- Roasted vegetables and chickpeas with wholemeal pasta
- Lentil and bean chilli with brown rice
Fibre as a snack
- Banana bran muffins
- Handful of nuts such as almonds or cashew nuts
- A small bag of popcorn