Protein is undeniably popular, but fibre far less so. There’s a fat chance you’ve likely never thought about fibre in a tasty way, especially if the first thought that comes to mind is grandma dolloping prunes on her muesli to stay “regular”.
But with gut health now on the radar of the wellbeing world, digestion is suddenly in and fibre is warranting its place back on the nutrient hot list.
“Fibre often gets overlooked but not for the reasons you think,” says Sydney nutritionist Amanda Ford. “Often it’s people who don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, those eating low carbohydrate diets or those hooked on latest superfood [powders] like maca and spirulina that tend to miss out on essential dietary fibre.”
Jessica Sepel, nutritionist and author of Living the Healthy Life, agrees and believes we need to be wary of buying into diet trends. “Low-carb or paleo diets have become trendy but it has also meant people are now missing out on carbohydrates altogether. [Wholegrains] are high in fibre so they are missing out on key nutrients without realising.”
It seems we’re in need of a fibre revival – but how do we do it? By discovering a new respect for the underrated nutrient. “The power of fibre is definitely underestimated. By simply increasing fibre you can treat many digestive issues by feeding the beneficial bacteria in our gut and promoting normal bowel movements,” says Ford.
What else makes fibre great beyond the digestive boost? “Fibre helps keep us fuller for longer, helps absorb nutrients better, regulates the immune system, improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels, protects against harmful pathogens and helps prevent diseases such as bowel cancer,” says Ford.
It also works in favour of women. “It can help balance hormones because it binds to excess oestrogen. I have a lot of clients with hormonal issues and usually it’s due to being on a very low carbohydrate/low fibre diet,” says Sepel.
Along with a Gut journal report finding a high-fibre Mediterranean diet promotes short chain fatty acids associated with reducing the risk of diabetes and inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, it seems it’s time we make friends with fibre.
We asked chefs and nutritionists to reveal their best ways to fuel up on fibre (no prunes required). Note: aim for at least 25 to 30 grams of fibre a day.
SEVEN TASTY FIBRE FIXES
Ford and Sepel share how to sneak more fibre into your diet.
1. Nosh on nuts
“Grab a handful of raw trail mix for the perfect on-the-go fibre and protein-rich snack,” says Ford.
2. Ramp up the raw foods
“Pair raw vegetable sticks like carrot or celery with hummus for a double hit of soluble fibre (thanks to the extra found in chickpeas),” says Ford.
3. Choose chia seeds
Try a chia pudding for breakfast or dessert.
4. Go green
“Add spinach or broccoli to your morning smoothie,” advises Ford. “Or saute your favourite greens with coconut oil and add lentils or beans,” says Sepel.
5. Honour wholegrains
“Switch white pasta or bread to wholegrain versions made from spelt, quinoa or amaranth,” says Ford.
6. Savour the skins
“Leave the skin on your kiwifruit and eat whole – it triples the fibre content,” says Ford.
7. Sprinkle in superfoods
“Add one tablespoon psyllium husk, slippery elm or flaxseed meal to your morning oats or smoothie for a quick fibre fix,” says Sepel.