The right kind of fibre

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These quinoa and sweet potato potato patties were so good. 2 sweet potatoes & 1 onion roasted in the oven, mixed with 2 cups of cooked quinoa, 2 tsp of ground cumin and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, plus some chopped fresh herbs. Form the mixture into patties, I fried half in coconut oil and baked half in the oven and the baked ones were best, served with a beetroot and avocado salad. Get back in love with quinoa folks, these are super delicious.

The right kind of fibre is vital to our health, supporting digestion, slowing down the glycemic impact of carbohydrate foods, feeding the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine, regulating our bowels and helping to protect against chronic disease as well as helping to control weight.1

There are two types of fibre:

Soluble Fibre

(Fermentable Fibre)

Insoluble fibre
Legumes, such as lentils, beans, oats, fruits and vegetables, including chia seeds, flax seeds, oats, bananas, raspberries and green veg. including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spring greens  Wheat, Corn, Whole meal bread, ready to eat cereals, brown rice, bran, nuts, seeds and non-starch veg.
Easily fermented by the beneficial bacteria in the gut, making this a PREBIOTIC food. Does not significantly bulk the stool. Absorbs water and acts as a stool bulking agent, passing waste more quickly through the digestive tract.
Helps to reduce risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even some cancers. May reduce blood cholesterol and help support and maintain healthy weight loss. May help to prevent constipation.
Side effects may include bloating and gas, due to the fermentation in your colon so introduce slowly. May worsen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Today I want to concentrate on Soluble Fibre, the really Important one. Soluble fibre is recognised for its important role in helping to support weight loss2. Firstly, soluble fibre, especially viscous fibre, (thick and gel-like once absorbed), is known to make us feel full for longer, thereby encouraging us to eat less. Secondly, the prebiotic role of soluble fibre, that is feeding and nourishing the gut microflora helps to control our hunger and satiety hormomes3. A healthy microflora is responsible for supporting our immune system, reducing the markers of chronic inflammation, known to be key indicators of obesity and disease and also manages the release of satiety hormone Leptin, which tells us when we are full3. Defective leptin signaling disrupts the maintenance of energy balance and body weight resulting in excessive calorie consumption and fat storage. That means, that it doesn’t matter how strong our willpower is, the brain will not receive a message that we don’t need to eat!!

It is really important, both for long term health outcomes and for the sustainability of healthy weight loss, to maintain our soluble fibre intake. If you are reducing your intake of carbohydrates including bread, pasta and rice, make sure you are obtaining adequate soluble fibre from legumes, oats, some fruit, woody veg. and nuts and seeds; here are some helpful ideas to keep you on track.

Adults recommended intake is 30g fibre per day:

(most of us manage about 15-20)

Here are a few examples of the fibre content of some common foods:

1 banana – 8g

1 cup of raspberries – 8g

1 Apple (skin on) – 2.5g

1 baked potato with skin – 6.5g

½ avocado – 6g

1 cup of oats – 17g

2 tbsp. of chia seeds = 11g

1 cup of lentils / kidney beans / black beans = 12-15g

1 cup quinoa = 5g

1 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta = 6.3g

¼ cup of almonds = 4g

Many people turn to low carbohydrate diets in an attempt to lose weight. The concern with that is that you are not getting sufficient fibre in your diet unless you consciously consume high amounts of vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and including high fibre ingredients such as oats, chia seeds, fruits and and leafy green veg.

Example of a fibre rich breakfast

1 banana, 1 apple, 1 cup of greens, 2 tbsp. of flaxseeds = ½ your daily fibre intake

1 chia pudding with 2 tbsp. of chia seeds and ½ cup of raspberries = ½ your daily fibre intake

1 cup of overnight oats with mixed fruit, nuts and seeds topping = ½ your daily fibre intake

Example of a fibre rich lunch / supper

Warm quinoa salad with baked sweet potato, avocado and a handful of chopped nuts = ½ your daily fibre intake

Lentil and vegetable soup with soluble fibre rich oatcakes (recipe below) = ½ your daily fibre intake

1McFarlane, S. McFarlane, G.T. and Cummings, J.H. (2006) Review Article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Alimentary pharmacology and Therapeutics. 1(24), p.701-714.

2Guyenet, S.J. and Schwartz, M.W. (2012) Regulation of Food Intake, Energy Balance, and Body Fat Mass: Implications for the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Obesity. Clinical Review. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 97(3), p.745-755.

3Sandoval, D. (2014) Old Dog, New Trick: A Direct Role for Leptin in Regulating Microbiota Composition. Endocrinology. 155(3), p.653-655