Our last blog post discussed the new SACN guidelines from July 2015 regarding carbohydrates and health. One of the recommendations in this was the need to increase dietary fibre in the healthy population.

There is quite a leap in the recommendation from 18g, which the last National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed we were not meeting, to 30g a day. It appears as a nation we don’t have the fibre-love! We should however, as the SACN report states a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and colo-rectal disease with the more dietary fibre we eat.

Mr Vegetable

Other Key Recommendations

  • There was evidence to suggest a link between higher consumption of vegetable fibre and a reduced incidence of coronary events but this was not seen with fibre from fruit.
  • A higher consumption of cereal fibre (bran, wholewheat & wholegrain for example) was also linked to a reduced incidence of coronary events, type 2 diabetes and colo-rectal cancer.

A Little More About Fibre

Fibre can be broadly classified into two types:

Insoluble Fibre – this does not dissolve in water and is not digested by the gut. It passes through relatively unchanged and therefore adds bulk to your stool. This fibre also speeds up transit time and consuming foods rich in insoluble fibre can help with constipation. You can find insoluble fibre in vegetables and foods containing whole grains, such a wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and cereals.

Soluble Fibre – this attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down digestion. This can help you feel full and potentially help with weight loss. Soluble fibre is also thought to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by interfering with it’s absorption. Soluble fibre is found in oats, nuts and fruits such as apples, pears, strawberries and blueberries.

Banana and raisin flapjack

Some Facts and Figures

We are not meeting the old recommendations for dietary fibre intake and as the new SACN report increases the target, we do have some work to do. It is possible to get to 30g of dietary fibre a day but it may mean making some small changes to your diet. The table below shows some basic swaps and ways to do this:

Quantity Food Fibre Content  (g) Swap Fibre Content (g)
1 slice White Bread 1 Wholemeal bread 2.7
75g uncooked White Pasta 2 Wholemeal Pasta 5.7
75g uncooked White Rice long grain 0.5 Brown Rice 1.4
1 pitta White Pitta Bread 1.8 Wholemeal Pitta Bread 3.7
1 slice Wholemeal bread 2.7 Granary Bread 3.4
1 cracker Cream Cracker x 1 0.3 Ryvita (original) x 1 1.7
1 medium (180g) Jacket potato (no skin) 1.5 Jacket potato (skin) 3.8
½ can (200g) Tinned Spaghetti 1.0 Baked Beans 7.7
30g Cornflakes 0.9 Bran Flakes 3.9
1 Packet of Crisps 1.1 Almonds (25g) 3

How Can I get 30g of Fibre into my Daily Diet?

Like any dietary change, it will be tricky to go from nothing to all and increasing fibre into your diet may need to be built up slowly. However, below is a meal plan showing how it is possible to meet the new recommendations. The table does not go into full details but shows the main sources of fibre:

Day 1

Food Quantity Fibre Content (g)
Granary Toast 2 slices 7.4
Peanut Butter 15g 1.0
Mid-Morning Snack
Almonds 25g 3.0
Ryvita Crackers with soft cheese 3 5.1
Crudites  1 carrot, 1/2 a pepper 3.0
Mid-Afternoon Snack
Banana 1 medium 3.1
Evening Meal
Portion of meat and vegetable bolognaise 300g  2.5
Wholemeal Pasta 75g (uncooked) 5.7

Total Fibre Consumed – 30.8g

Day 2

Food Quantity Fibre Content (g)
Porridge oats 40g 3.6
Raisins  30g 1.0
Mid-Morning Snack
Apple 1 average 3.6
Egg Sandwich on Granary Bread 2 slices 7.4
Cherry tomatoes 5 1.0
Raspberries and plain yoghurt 40g raspberries 2.5
Mid-Afternoon Snack
Brazil nuts 5 2.0
Evening Meal
Bean Chilli 300g 15
Brown Rice 75g (uncooked) 1.4

Total Fibre Consumed – 37.5g

Extra Tips

  • Increase the amount of fibre into your diet gradually. Like any dietary changes it may take some time and you may need to get your body used to the increase.
  • Think wholemeal and wholegrain, a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, nuts and beans – this is where you will find a good source of fibre.
  • Increasing fibre in your diet will go hand in hand with healthy eating. You may find your diet generally improves and you feel better and even lose some weight.
  • Drink plenty of fluids; a sharp rise in fibre intake without this may lead to some discomfort and constipation.
  • If you have any medical conditions that affect your bowel speak with your GP, Consultant or Dietitian before making any changes to the fibre content in your diet.