Fibre remains one of the most important elements of a healthy diet, primarily because it helps to maintain bowel health and aids in achieving a suitable weight.
While knowing this is one thing, however, ensuring that you have enough fibre in your diet is quite another. As a starting point, however, there are some signs that you should look for to determine whether or not you are suffering from a lack of fibre. These include: –
You Are Bloated Or Constipated
This is the single most obvious sign of a fibre shortage, as this nutrient helps to maintain regular bowel movements. If you are consuming less than 25 grams a day on average, you will probably notice a build-up of gas and less regular bowel movements over time.
You Suffer From Sugar Highs and Crashes
The cycle of sugar highs and subsequent crashes is usually a sign of spiking blood-sugar levels, which can be cause by a lack of fibre. This is because the body finds it easier to deal with carbohydrates that are released slowly, improving your moods and energy levels as a result.
You Feel Hungry After Finishing a Meal
Similarly, those suffering from a lack of fibre may find that they still feel hungry after finishing a meal. Once again, this is because the body takes longer to break down fibre, which helps to curb food cravings and leaves us feeling fuller for longer.
You Are Gaining Weight
While there are many contributing factors to weight gain, a lack of fibre may be the culprit in instances where you have an otherwise healthy diet. After all, fibre helps to reduce weight gain by increasing satiety and reducing blood-sugar spikes, so a shortage can cause you to add pounds relatively quickly.
The Core Benefits of Fibre, and the Foods That Can Help You to Add it to Your Diet
Fibre is one of the more interesting nutritional elements, not least because it is derived solely from plants. It does not exist in meat, fish or dairy products, which is why people can struggle to consume enough fibre through their regular diet. Herein lies the issue, as it is recommended that we consume at least 25 grams each day in order to realise the full benefits of fibre.
Fibre is also a complex carbohydrate, but it is also unlike any other nutritional element of its type. This is because it cannot be broken down by the body to provide energy or calories, but instead provides the critical function of sustaining digestive health and removing harmful waste from our systems. There are two primary types of fibre too, which can be broken down as follows:
There are 2 Types Of Fibre: Soluble Fibre vs Insoluble Fibre
This type dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance, which actively lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels. This is the type of nutrient that drives a healthy weight, while also impacting on our overall mood and energy levels. In contrast, Insoluble fibre promotes the movement of material through the digestive system to increase stool bulk, eliminate harmful waste and maintain good digestive health. This also normalizes bowel movements and eliminates the risk of bloating and constipation.
Which Foods Represent the Best Sources of Fibre?
These variable fibre types can be found in different foods, so let’s take a look at 20 of the ingredients that you should add to your diet to achieve greater digestive (and general) health:
With 7 grams of fibre per 100 grams, Avacado is a super-food that should form a part of any healthy diet. It is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids too, which help to aid joint movement, reduce blood-fat levels and in some instances relieve the symptoms of depression. There are also plenty of creative ways that you can introduce this to your diet, with some of the best and easiest recipes listed here.
Raspberries also include 7 grams of fibre per 100 grams, while they also have the distinction of being rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants (which contribute to a healthier immune system). There is also evidence to suggest that frozen raspberries are better for you than fresh ones, meaning that you can consume them all year round and in any number of fruit-based desserts.
Next up is blackberries, which feature 5 grams of fibre for every 100 grams that you purchase. A daily handful of these delicious, summer treats also deliver nearly half of your recommended manganese intake, which in turn helps your body to produce connective tissues. Here are some of the best blackberry-inspired recipes for you to try.
This exotic super fruit is an excellent but unheralded source of fibre, with a total of five grams per 100 gram portion. Like raspberries, guava is also rich in Vitamin C and also lycopene, which helps to prevent heart disease and cancer. If this is not enough, adding this to your diet also allows you to sample this delicious guava jelly recipe!
While this may be another exotic fruit, we wager that this is one that you will not have heard of. Persimmon features 3.6 grams of fibre per 100 gram portion, while it is also rich in the antioxidant beta carotine. There are two types of this fruit too, with the firmer fuyus ideal for salads and hachiyas perfect for jams or compotes.
Unsurprisingly, vegetables are also excellent sources of fibre, with artichoke offering one of the best examples. A proven super-food, this includes 5 grams of fibre per 100 gram portion, while it is also a thistle vegetable that can be consumed before the flower buds bloom. Nowadays, it is available in fresh, canned, frozen and marinated forms, meaning that it can be used in a large number of recipes.
The sweetest of all root vegetables, parsnips include 4.9 grams of fibre in every 100 gram portion. They also contain high levels of manganese and potassium, so they slowly release energy throughout the day and leave you feeling fuller for longer. Martha Stewart has some outstanding parsnip recipes in her books, with her roast-parsnip bread particularly delicious.
8. Green Peas
A Great British staple, green peas are a garden vegetable that include 5 grams of fibre per 100 gram portion. One cup also provides 46% of your RDA of vitamin K-1, which maintains bone health, prevents blood clots and can be hard to find in everyday food items. Of course, the best way to enjoy green peas is in the form of a delicious soup, such as the one featured here.
9. Boiled Broccoli
Renowned for being rich in iron, broccoli is also an excellent source of fibre. With 3.3 grams per 100 gram portion, it is an outstanding ingredient that should form a central part of your diet. Not only is this a popular feature of any traditional Sunday roast, but there are also an excellent array of broccoli recipes available online.
Corn may well be classed as one of the most fibre-rich vegetables available, with seven grams of the nutrient included in every 100 gram portion. Corn is also rich in the lesser-known lutein and zeaxanthin, which are phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. You can also eat corn on the cob as a snack, of course, while this site also features a number of slightly more inventive recipes.
11. Chia Seeds
In many ways, seeds represent the most potent sources of fibre. Take chia seeds, for example, which include a staggering 34 grams of fibre for every 100 gram portion. Chia seeds also contain more Omega 3 than salmon, while they can be used in a number of recipes from classic summer desserts to homemade protein bars.
12. Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Next up are toasted sunflower seeds, which are best known for reducing cholesterol. They also include 12 grams of fibre in every 100 gram portion, which would account for nearly half of your RDA. These seeds are also particularly delicious in snacks and protein bars, but there are an array of recipes in which they can be used.
13. Flax Seeds
Another high-fibre food item, a single 100 gram portion of flax seeds can deliver more than the minimum daily intake recommendation of 25 grams (27 grams in total). Flax seeds also include high levels of Lignans (more than any other plant, in fact), which helps to boost the immune system and balance hormones. They are also exceptionally tasty too, so here are some of the best ways to eat flax seeds.
A seed that can be used like a grain (and not to mention a fully-fledged super-food), quinoa features 2.75 grams of fibre in every 100 gram portion. It is also rich in protein, however, with all of the essential amino acids making it a seminal inclusion in any modern diet. If you are new to quinoa, here are 10 superb recipes for you to digest!
15. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a popular food item, which include 18 grams of fibre in a single 100 gram portion. A key driver of digestive health in both humans and dogs, pumpkin seeds also include 19 grams of protein per portion, making them a key source of slow-release energy. Most recipes require you to roast the pumpkin seeds, however, so follow this guide to ensure that you do this right!
16. Lima Beans
Finally we come to beans, which are a deceptive but ultimately rich source of fibre. Take Lima beans, for example, which include 7 grams of fibre for every 100 gram portion and are also an excellent source of molybdenum (which is an important mineral nutrient that adds digestive system health). Lima beans are also easy to incorporate in a variety of recipes, including the following.
17. Black Turtle Beans
The fascinatingly titled Black Turtle beans are not only rather exotic-sounding, but they also include an impressive 16 grams of fibre in every 100 gram portion. The same portion would also provide 42% of your daily potassium intake, helping to lower blood pressure and even alleviate stress. These beans originate from Cuba, and here are some of the local delicacies that they can help you to recreate.
18. White Beans
Otherwise known as Cannellini beans, this popular food item includes 11 grams of fibre per every 100 gram portion. It is also an excellent source of protein and Vitamin C, making it one of the biggest contributors to a healthy body. The versatility of white beans also means that they can be included in any number of savory recipes, including these.
19. Pinto Beans
We touched on molybdenum earlier, and pinto beans are also an excellent source of this. They also include 16 grams of fibre for every 100 gram portion consumed, while they are exceptionally low in fat. Pinto beans are also tasty, although they tend to taste better in Mexican-inspired dishes with a little heat.
20. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a tremendous source of fibre, with 25 grams included in a single 100 gram portion (which just so happens to match your RDA). It is also high in potassium and provides 48% of your daily protein intake, meaning that is delivers a consistent form of energy throughout the day. Even though some do not like the texture of kidney beans, there are recipes that negate this and allow you to realise the foods’ immense health benefits.
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