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The benefits of eating more fibre

The benefits of eating more fibre
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Fibre is essential for a healthy diet. Also known as ‘roughage’, the benefits of eating more fibre are great, keeping our bodies in tip top condition, so why as a nation do we not eat enough of it? The NHS recommends that adults should aim to eat 18g of fibre each day. At the moment the average amount eaten is just 14g.

What is fibre?

Fibre is categorised as a complex carbohydrate. However, rather than producing glucose like other carbs, fibre can’t be digested and passes through the body unchanged. Dietary fibre has two forms: soluble and insoluble. Both have different properties but each is important to achieving a healthy balanced diet. Soluble fibre reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood stream and helps the intestines move waste through the body more quickly. Insoluble fibre makes waste softer making it easier to pass and reducing the risk of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

What are the health benefits?

The health benefits of fibre are numerous and varied. They include:

Weight loss

High fibre foods tend to be filling and keep you feeling full for longer. However, as the body doesn’t store calories from fibre, they can help with weight loss. People who eat plenty of fibre are often less likely to put on weight than those who don’t get enough.

Digestive health

The benefits of eating more fibreEating plenty of fibre helps to keep the digestive system healthy. Constipation affects around 20% of the population but can often be easily remedied by eating more fibre. When fibre goes through the bowel it bulks up any waste making it softer and easier to pass. High-fibre diets have also been linked to a reduced chance of developing bowel cancer.

Heart disease

As fibre reduces the amount of cholesterol in the body it can help protect against heart disease and strokes. It appears that fibre lowers levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol without affecting ‘good’ cholesterol levels. Evidence has also shown that a diet high in fibre can also help heart attack victims live longer.

Diabetes

Some studies have also showed that fibre can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It slows down the absorption of carbs into the blood stream, keeping blood sugar levels constant.

Where is fibre found?

Fibre comes from food harvested from plants. Meat, fish and dairy products don’t contain any fibre. Fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, oats, lentils and wholegrain bread, pasta and rice are all great sources. If you’re prone to snacking then try dried nuts, raisins and even popcorn for a fibre boost. An easy way to increase your fibre intake is to swap white pasta and rice for wholegrain alternatives. Keep an eye on food labels when shopping and look out for high fibre foods, which contain at least 6g of fibre per 100g.

When increasing your fibre intake it’s important to do so gradually to avoid gastric distress, bloating and cramps. Insoluble fibre needs water to work properly so try to make sure you drink at least eight glasses of water each day.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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