Fibre is a carbohydrate found in plants that contributes to our well being in a number of ways. Fibre helps us feel full following a meal, helps lower cholesterol levels by absorbing and removing it, helps keep our bowels moving and helps regulate our blood sugar. Some types of soluble fibre, for example, inulin found in leeks, asparagus, onions, garlic and wheat and oats, have a pre-biotic effect on our gut. In other words, it helps to feed the trillions of micro-organisms living in our gut, which supports our health in many ways.
On average, Canadian women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day. Unfortunately, according to Health Canada, most Canadians are only getting about half that much.
So what can we do to increase our daily intake of fibre? Here are a few simple tips to help you get started.
- Increase intake of fruit and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are full of fibre, so eating 7-10 servings per day is a sure way to help you reach your 25 grams or more of recommended daily intake. Use whole fresh or frozen fruit (such as berries) with the skin on as most of the fibre is in the skin. For the same reason, limit fruit juice as it really is not a reliable source of fibre. Veggies are also an excellent source of fibre. Adding roasted veggies to a salad for example will help you increase your intake. Also, consider adding berries or greens to smoothies for a little extra fibre.
- Choose whole grains.
Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, farro and oats are higher in dietary fibre then the more refined grains found in white rice, pastas and breads. Consider whole grain, brown rice or quinoa pastas over white, or whole grain spelt, Ezekiel or Kamut bread over white or whole wheat. Be sure to read labels to ensure the product is made using the whole grain. Look for items made from 100% whole grains with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Consider adding whole cooked grains to soups, salads or wraps for an additional source of fibre.
- Sprinkle some seeds.
Seeds such as chia, flax and hemp hearts provide a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, with chia seeds boasting 9 grams of fibre per 2 tablespoons of seeds. Soluble fibre, found in fruits, veggies and legumes helps remove cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar, while insoluble fibre (when accompanied by water) helps keep you regular and maintains your digestive system. Sprinkle chia or flax seeds on oatmeal, yogurt or any kind of nut butter. Consider making a chia seed pudding which works well for breakfast or dessert. Hemp hearts can be added to guacamole, homemade hummus or salads.
- Incorporate fibre rich snacks (1-2/day).
Snacks are a simple way to increase our nutritional intake throughout the day. Opt for fibre rich snacks rather than cookies or muffins when the need for an afternoon snack hits. Consider whole fruits, with nuts or seeds, sliced veggies and hummus, avocado and hemp hearts on wholegrain bread or crackers or roasted chickpeas .
- Eat more beans!
Beans are a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Just a ½ cup serving provides 7-17g of fibre. With a daily intake recommendation of 21-38 g/day, ½ cup of beans per day can certainly get you close to meeting your daily needs. Beans can be pureed into a dip, like hummus and served with crackers or veggies. Consider adding beans to soups or a salad or serve them with grains such as rice or quinoa.
Before you head out and start increasing your fibre intake, remember to take it slowly to avoid gas, bloating and potential diarrhea. Have fibre containing foods throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids as you increase your fibre intake. Fibre without sufficient fluids can lead to constipation and you don’t want that!
Below is a recipe to get you started with what will hopefully be your first fibre rich meal of your day!
Chia Seed Pudding in a Jar (2 ways)
- 1 cup nut or dairy milk
- 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- Cinnamon to taste
- 1/2 cup nut or dairy milk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- Cinnamon to taste
Place all the ingredients in a mason jar, stir well and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight if desired. For a more blended consistency, place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.
In the morning, add desired toppings such as fresh fruit, granola, nuts or seeds.
Linda @ The Wholesome Kitchen