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:

QuantityFoodFibre Content  (g)SwapFibre Content (g)
1 sliceWhite Bread1Wholemeal bread2.7
75g uncookedWhite Pasta2Wholemeal Pasta5.7
75g uncookedWhite Rice long grain0.5Brown Rice1.4
1 pittaWhite Pitta Bread1.8Wholemeal Pitta Bread3.7
1 sliceWholemeal bread2.7Granary Bread3.4
1 crackerCream Cracker x 10.3Ryvita (original) x 11.7
1 medium (180g)Jacket potato (no skin)1.5Jacket potato (skin)3.8
½ can (200g)Tinned Spaghetti1.0Baked Beans7.7
30gCornflakes0.9Bran Flakes3.9
1Packet of Crisps1.1Almonds (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

Breakfast
FoodQuantityFibre Content (g)
Granary Toast2 slices7.4
Peanut Butter15g1.0
Mid-Morning Snack
Almonds25g3.0
Lunch
Ryvita Crackers with soft cheese35.1
Crudites 1 carrot, 1/2 a pepper3.0
Mid-Afternoon Snack
Banana1 medium3.1
Evening Meal
Portion of meat and vegetable bolognaise300g 2.5
Wholemeal Pasta75g (uncooked)5.7

Total Fibre Consumed – 30.8g

Day 2

Breakfast
FoodQuantityFibre Content (g)
Porridge oats40g3.6
Raisins 30g1.0
Mid-Morning Snack
Apple1 average3.6
Lunch
Egg Sandwich on Granary Bread2 slices7.4
Cherry tomatoes51.0
Raspberries and plain yoghurt40g raspberries2.5
Mid-Afternoon Snack
Brazil nuts52.0
Evening Meal
Bean Chilli300g15
Brown Rice75g (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.