Today’s blog post is co-written by one of my nutrition student volunteers, Maria Fatima. All of the tips for boosting fibre intake are appropriate for the low FODMAP diet. Not sure what the low FODMAP diet is? Click here to learn more!
Has your doctor ever advised you to increase your fibre intake? Many Canadians only eat half the amount of daily fibre that’s recommended.1 Fibre has numerous health benefits, so why don’t we eat more? Some of us find fruits and vegetables too boring and most highly processed foods are low in fibre. Adding fibre to your diet does not need to feel like a chore! In this blog post, you will learn about the benefits of fibre and practical ways to boost the amount of fibre in your meals.
What is fibre?
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods, including grain products (e.g., wheat, oats, quinoa, etc.), fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, and soybeans.1 It may also be called ‘roughage’ or ‘bulk’.1 Fibre is not digested and absorbed by our bodies.1 Instead of giving us energy like other types of carbohydrates, it provides us with other numerous benefits.
Benefits of Fibre
Here are some of the top benefits of fibre:
- lowers cholesterol levels 2, 3
- helps to regulate your blood sugar 2, 3
- reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (i.e., breast and colorectal) 2, 3
- adds bulk to stool and promotes regular bowel movements 2, 3
- supports weight management by increasing satiety (i.e., helping you feel full for longer) 3
Types of Fibre
There are two different types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Both are very important for health. Many plant foods contain soluble and insoluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre is found in wheat bran, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.3 A lot of the insoluble fibre found in fruits and vegetables are in the seeds and peels. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stool which promotes regular bowel movements and reduces constipation.3 However, if you struggle with managing diarrhea, eating more insoluble fibre may make your symptoms worse.4
Soluble fibre is found in foods such as oat bran, oatmeal, barley, legumes, nuts, chia seeds and fruits.3 This type of fibre absorbs water and creates a gel.4 Soluble fibre is helpful for managing both diarrhea and constipation.4
Psyllium fibre is a type of soluble fibre that is low FODMAP. It can be used as a fibre supplement to help with both diarrhea and constipation.5 Talk to your dietitian and/or doctor before starting any fibre supplement.
How Much Fibre Should I Eat?
The recommended amount of fibre per day depends on your age and gender.1 It’s recommended for women aged 19 to 50 to aim for 25 grams/day.1 Women who are 51 and older should aim for 21 grams.1 Men have higher recommended amounts. Men aged 19 to 50 should aim for 38 grams, and men 51 and older 30 grams.1
Your health professional may give you a different target amount of fibre per day based on your health history. Please speak to your dietitian and/or doctor for personalized recommendations.
Boost Your Fibre Intake
Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet is important, but it is also important to do this gradually.4 Your body needs time to get used to higher amounts of fibre.4 If you suddenly go from eating a small amount of fibre each day to a very high amount, you may experience unpleasant side effects like bloating, gas, and loose bowel movements.1, Try adding one extra high fibre food to your diet each day to slowly increase your intake over time. Additionally, make sure to drink plenty of fluids each day, especially when eating high fibre foods.4
Aim to eat:
- Vegetables or fruit at every meal
- Whole grains more often than processed grains
- Nuts or seeds every day
- Lentils and beans as tolerated (canned lentils are low FODMAP at 1/2 cup; canned chickpeas are low FODMAP at 1/4 cup)
- At least 1 healthy high fibre snack per day
12 Tips to increase your fibre intake:
1. Add berries to your cereal
2. Cook with brown or wild rice more often than white rice
3. Mix shredded carrots into tomato sauce
5. Throw a handful of greens, such as spinach or kale, into your scrambled eggs
6. Stir a tablespoon of flax or chia seeds into oatmeal
7. Mix canned lentils in with ground meat in chilis and sauces
8. Make homemade potato wedges. Scrub them clean and skip peeling to boost the insoluble fibre. Click the photo for recipe.
9. Keep a small plastic bag of nuts and seeds in your bag or purse to snack on when you are out of the house
10. Slice up your favourite vegetables on the weekends to add to lunches during the week (e.g., bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, broccoli)
11. Freeze extra spinach and blend into smoothies
12. Snack on healthy foods such as these healthy carrot cookies or banana oat cookies. Click pictures for recipes.
Fibre is an important nutrient for your health. There are lots of fun (and delicious) ways to incorporate it into your diet. Challenge yourself to try out a couple of the tips to increase your fibre intake this week! I also have lots of other recipes that are high in fibre. Click here to see all my recipes.
Have questions about fibre? Leave them in the comments down below!
What’s your favourite high fibre food? I love raspberries, which are high in fibre and low FODMAP!
Co-written with Maria Fatima.
Are you looking for support with managing digestive symptoms and/or the low FODMAP diet? My nutrition counselling and coaching services are available across Canada (via video messaging or phone). I am a registered dietitian with a Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition who specializes in digestion and practical healthy eating tips. Learn more about my services by clicking here.
- Dietitians of Canada. (2016, October 26). Information about fibre. Retrieved from www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fibre/Food-Sources-of-Fibre.aspx
- EatRight Ontario. (2016, October 9). Focus on fibre. Retrieved from www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Fibre/Focus-on-Fibre.aspx
- Canadian Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Fibre. Retrieved from http://diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/fibre
- Suzanne Dixon. (2013). Constipation, Diarrhea and Fiber. Retrieved from https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/eating-well-when-unwell/constipation-diarrhea-and-fiber/
- Alana Scott. (2015). Getting enough fibre on the low FODMAP diet. Retrieved from https://www.alittlebityummy.com/blog/getting-enough-fibre-on-the-low-fodmap-diet/