Nutrition Tips with Sarah Keogh - Are you eating enough fibre?

Friday, 16 March 2018

Did you know that almost 80% of adults in Ireland do not eat enough fibre? But most people think that they do! Why do we need fibre? Fibre is best known as being essential for a healthy digestion but did you know that eating lots of fibre is linked with lower risk of heart disease and cancer? Fibre can also help you to get to and stay at a healthy weight.

Why are we missing fibre?
Most people have no idea about how much fibre they need every day. Many people think that one bowl of high-fibre cereal in the morning is enough – but it is not even close! If you are going to get all of the fibre you need, you have to think about (and eat!) fibre at every meal.

Fibre rich foods
We need to eat 25-35g of fibre every day. Fibre is found in lots of foods including fruit, vegetables, nuts seeds and wholegrain breads and cereals. However, there is less fibre in most of these foods than you might think. An average bowl of high-fibre breakfast cereal will give you around 4g of fibre. A serving of fruit or vegetables will give you 2-3g. So if you only think about fibre once or twice a day you may struggle to get what you need.

How to eat more fibre
Remember to add a high-fibre food to every meal. Fruit, vegetables or salad should make up one third to one half of every meal. If you are having bread or cereals go for wholegrain or high-fibre options. Choose jacket potatoes and try some brown rice or pasta. You can also add fibre with nuts and seeds. 2 dessertspoons of seeds in your cereal in the morning can add an extra 6g of fibre. Beans and lentils are also brilliant sources of fibre and you can add them to soups, stews and casseroles. You could also try the occasional vegetarian meal based on beans or lentils.

A final word: If you do choose to increase your fibre, remember not to do it all in one day! Take 2-3 weeks to build your fibre all the way up. And remember to add some extra water. Your digestion needs fibre and water to work at its best. Aim to get around 2 litres of water in every day.

Sarah Keogh
Consultant Dietician at eatwell.ie