I don’t know if it’s been the alignment of the stars or just sheer coincidence, but this past week every second patient presented with constipation. Usually treating constipation is straight forward, but these cases were hard ones (no pun intended). Each case was unique but each revolved around the issue of fibre, be it the lack of or consuming the wrong type of fibre.
Adult suggested intake of fibre is about 30gm a day. That’s equivalent to 10 apples a day.
In a typical diet it would equate to the list below, and to be honest I don’t know anyone that would have a diet this wonderful…
2 slices rye bread
1 cup brown rice
½ cup of lentils
½ cup broccoli
A handful of nuts
For children aged 4-8years it is suggested to consume 18gms/day, aged 8-13yrs 22g/day and 14-18yrs about 25g/day.
Scientific evidence links fibre intake to a plethora of health benefits, including treating and preventing constipation, haemorrhoids, and diverticulitis; decreasing blood cholesterol levels, which protects against certain forms of cancer; and increasing satiety to help control weight. However recent research suggests that fibre has an important role in immune health. We know that cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity have underlying inflammatory processes. Dietary fibre may play a role to modulate the immune system and therefore produce a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
There is consumer interest in fibre, but the real challenge is getting people to comply. Most people complain about flatulence. For most, the frequent gastric distress will go away. The other difficulty is most people don’t consume the different types of fibre. Many whole plant foods are rich in different types of dietary fibre, such as pectin, gum, mucilage, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and soluble fibre. Consuming a variety of fibres is suggested to gain the maximum benefits of a high-fibre diet. The trend in food for food technologists is determining how to incorporate fibre in our everyday products. There’s a trend in adding fibre to yogurt, chocolate, infant formula…the list goes on. And yet, there is a much easier way to get extra fibre in your diet. I will set a challenge for a fortnight. Fourteen days of getting 30gms of fibre in my diet. Even on my 5:2 days. How?
On my non 5:2 days some mixture of the below that will add up to 30g in addition to a strong protein intake.
1 apple (4g)
1 pear (6g)
Porridge (Bob’s Red Mill) (10g) PLUS one teaspoon chia seeds (6g)
2 x kiwi (6g)
1 cup Broccoli (6g)
½c Brussell sprouts (6g)
½c Cabbage (5g)
1 medium orange (4g)
½ c kale (3g)
1 cup cooked Quinoa/brown rice/barley/pasta/buckwheat noodles (5-7g)
Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kim chi, etc.)
On my 5:2 days
Healthy Bake Khorasan and linseed bread x 1 piece (4g)
Pear (6g) + kiwi fruit (3g)
Dhal (lentil w curry) (18g)
There it is, I am starting this tomorrow (which happens to be a 5:2 day). I will keep track of my weight, mood, tummy troubles and energy levels (hunger pangs), cravings and whatever else comes to mind as I progress through the days. I am hoping that by the end of the 14 days I will be more conscious of my fibre intake and less likely to abandon a high fibre diet. I am not interested in cheating by having fibre supplements but I will use my Thermomix and Nutribullet to mulch my juices with all the fibre intact.
Ultimately, I am wishing that anyone reading this would take the challenge too. I really believe it’s about time Australians improved their fibre intake. It’s such a simple dietary change that we would benefit from. And if, like me, you have kids, start the habit of high fibre foods for them. It baffles me that a parent would greet their child from school with junk food. Whatever happened to simple healthy nutritious food choices? Why do parents feel the need to load their kids up on rubbish as a form of reward? If a child is hungry, believe me, they will eat whatever you give them. An apple is sweet, nutritious, easy to eat and refreshing. As is a carrot, pear, apricot, watermelon and so on. With that in mind, I am going to prepare a fruit platter for my husband and I to enjoy as we watch Jerry Maguire.
I'm a lover of fine food, amazing cheese and sharing with people I love.