Health Tips: Don't Forget About Fibre

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With all the 'superfood' words that have been floating about for the last few years, it's easy to forget about the basic, somewhat boring, words like fibre. While superfoods are important and most encouraging in helping us get many of the nutrients and goodness that we need, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be thinking and remembering about staples like fibre. We need a good mix of everything.

Foods come and go in trends like fashion. Who ever ate avocado a few years ago? Or chia seeds? They are buzz words. And because they appear on instagram and look pretty on your plate (or mashed up on toast), they've become trendy. This in itself is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. But just because fibre isn't sexy, I mean, let's face it, we only think of fibre for one reason and that is to keep everything moving through and out of the body. Sexy? Hell no! Necessary? Very much so.

So, for this reason, fibre is being forgotten about and it is every bit as important as any other nutrient. Nutritionists are trying to bring it to the forefront, mainly because most people are not eating the required recommended daily amount. Most people reach for a pear or a bowl of bran flakes when things aren't moving along as they should be and then they forget about it until their poor bowel function reminds them again. We need to be keeping things in check all the time, not just when we are in trouble!

Nutritional research into fibre has been developing over the years and a better understanding of this powerful nutrient is teaching us of its importance. As well as helping the bowels to increase the bulk and soften the waste you pass (not so sexy, right?!), nutrition experts are realising the importance that fibre is also playing in the health of the gut. Fibre has disease-fighting anti-inflammatory properties, along with helping to build strong bones, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. 

In terms of it's role in weight loss, fibre breaks down in the body at a slower rate than other nutrients, which keeps blood sugar levels in check and also keeps you feeling fuller for longer. And you know how we constantly promote drinking water? Well, fibre absorbs more water than other nutrients and therefore keeps this water in your body for longer to carry out the functions it is required to do.

It may not always be clear what you should be eating in order to ensure your recommended 30g of daily fibre or you may not realise that certain foods contain higher levels of fibre. Where possible, do not peel fruit and vegetables as the skin is the part that contains most of the fibre. This is one of the reasons I prefer smoothies to juices. Juicing leaves behind the skin whereas when you opt for smoothies the entire fruit and veg is included. Having said that, it is still more beneficial to eat the fruit whole.

Foods rich in fibre include nuts and seeds, wholewheat pasta and wholegrain bread, fruits such as pears, melon and oranges, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas and potatoes with their skins on, like baked potatoes.

If you think you're not getting enough fibre in your diet, start to slowly increase the amount you eat and will notice a remarkable difference to the way you feel.