Despite its many benefits, The Irish Heart Foundation has confirmed that 80% of adults in Ireland are eating less than the 25 – 34g of fibre recommended daily. While children need less (their age plus 5g fibre per day i.e. a ten-year-old child should be getting 15 g a day (10 years + 5g of fibre)), we know that the majority of Irish children are not getting enough either.
Many of us will be aware that we need to eat fibre for healthy digestion and to keep our waste ‘moving through’. Fibre also keeps us full, helping with weight management. Studies have shown that increasing intake of fibre improves glycaemic control and reduces other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as cholesterol levels and body weight
Best sources of fibre
Many of us automatically think of bran when it comes to upping our fibre intake. However, there are many healthier and easier ways to ensure you get at least the minimum amount of fibre in your diet. Good sources include wholegrains, vegetables, pulses like lentils and chickpeas, nuts, seeds and fruit.
Easy ways to boost your intake
If you are currently eating a limited amount of higher fibre food, there are some easy tweaks to your meals you can make to boost this. We recommend making gradual changes though, as introducing lots more fibre can initially cause an increase in bloating and gut issues, especially if you have IBS or an inflammatory bowel condition. Think about starting with one step and building on that gradually…
- Chose wholegrain bread. Check the ingredient list to ensure that wholegrain or wholemeal flour is the first ingredient and be aware that many granary-style breads are just white bread with some seeds and brown colouring added
- Chose wholegrain cereals. Porridge is an even better option, as long as you chose whole and ideally jumbo oats and steer clear of quick oat-type products
- Eat potatoes or sweet potatoes with their skin, where most of the fibre is found
- Chose wholegrain pasta, which cooks in the same time as white pasta
- Chose wholegrain rice. This usually takes longer to cook than it’s white counter part, but is worth it for the fibre boost and lovely nutty taste. Try making a large batch and store it in the freezer in portion sized containers. Defrost in less than 4 minutes by dropping into a pot of boiling water or allow to defrost in the fridge overnight
- Eat at least 5 portions of vegetables every day, half or your plate at lunch and dinner. At this time of year, soups are a great option. Add pulses for an extra boost. Add more vegetables to your favourite recipes and include as part of a snack e.g. carrot sticks or sugar snap peas with hummus
- Eat more pulses. One of our most sustainable food choices is also a great source of fibre. Add tins of butterbeans, chickpeas or other pulses to soups, casseroles, stews and curries. Or add dry red lentils which cook in less than 15 minutes
- Eat 2 portions of fruit daily, one of the easiest and tastiest ways to boost intake. Try adding frozen berries to your porridge when cooking or choose a fruit-based dessert like a healthy apple crumble topped with oats, maple syrup and flaked almonds
- Eat a portion of nuts or seeds every day, boosting both your healthy fats and fibre. Try adding ground seeds like to your breakfast or sprinkle on salads or soup. For a healthy snack, try adding seeds or chopped nuts to a yoghurt or eat a palmful of nuts with a piece of fruit
Fibre-rich menu plan
|Breakfast||Overnight oats or porridge with 1 cup raspberries and 2 tbsp chia seeds||Up to 21g fibre|
|Lunch||Butternut squash, spinach and black bean soup with 1 slice wholegrain bread||Up to 24g fibre|
|Snack||Pear and 1 tbsp almonds||7g fibre|
|Dinner||Salmon, broccoli, carrot and green bean stirfry with brown rice||Up to 15g|
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