Fibre consumption is proving to be more important in weight management than we thought.
There isn’t an upper limit to the amount of fibre we can eat (our ancestors used to eat 100-200g/day) but the recommended minimum is 25-40g/day. On average we eat 12-14g per day.
Many people complain that increased fibre makes them bloated and have abdominal pain. This is common when changing from a low to high fibre diet as the microbiome (bugs in the gut) needs to change to digest the increased amounts. If you increase your fibre dramatically overnight it will take up to 12 weeks for your gut to settle down. The other option is to increase the fibre steadily every few days. Having increased bloating and even some diarrhoea for a while is normal and healthy.
When you are choosing food for your meals and especially if eating out, look for meals with more fibre content.
Fibre, especially when mixed with protein is very good at keeping you feeling full and awake. This is where beans, lentils and wholegrains come into their own.
There are two different types of fibre and they should be eaten together where ever possible. This is to help regulate the gastro-colic reflex and to allow the microbiome to upregulate and digest the fibres more efficiently.
Soluble fibre should be eaten first in a meal and includes:
- Soy (including edamame beans), quinoa, mushrooms, chestnuts, avocados (these ones are best).
- Rice, pasta, oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, rice cereals, corn cereals, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, unprocessed white breads (eg sourdough).
- Carrots, yams, potatoes, kumara, squash, pumpkin, parsnips, beetroot, swede.
- Bananas, mango, pawpaw, applesauce.
However many of these foods can be refined or quite sweet, so should be eaten only occasionally. Leave skins on the root vegetables.
Insoluble fibre should be eaten alongside soluble fibre or it may cause more bloating. Once your guts are used to more fibre, you can branch out. These foods are VERY good for you, so include at least one or two in your diet every day and aim for lots of variety (but only one portion of fruit per day!)
- Seeds, nuts, popcorn, wholebeans, lentils.
- Peas, green beans, lettuce, leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bean sprouts, fresh herbs.
- Celery, capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, corn.
- Wholewheat, wheatbran, granola.
- Berries, grapes, raisins, cherries, pineapple, rhubarb, melons, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, citrus, apples (better if peeled), dates, prunes.