How Much Fibre Do We Really Need?
Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine gives the lowdown on the amount of fibre we should be chowing down on daily in order to reap the health benefits.
Inherent to plant-based foods, fibre is the component of plants that we’re unable to digest.
You get fibre from:
- Legumes - like lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans; if you aren’t such a legume fan, give the Dry Roasted Chickpea or Fava Bean Supersnacks from Get Farmed! a go…you may just be converted
- Whole grains – like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat
- Fruit and Veg
- Nuts and Seeds
While you may think the only benefit of fibre is to reduce constipation, it can be helpful for our health in more ways than one. Fibre is beneficial for:
Gut health: Fibre helps keep our bowels regular, adds bulk to stools, and can help prevent haemorrhoids and other issues/conditions related to digestive health.
Weight management: Foods rich in soluble fibre attract water, forming a gel-like substance in the gut; this delays stomach emptying, keeping you fuller for longer. Legumes, oats, citrus fruits, okra and eggplant are rich sources of soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre - the other kind of fibre - found in bran, brown rice and root vegetable skin – also adds bulk to your meal…there’s only so many lentils and so much sweet potato you can eat in one sitting.
Reducing cholesterol: Soluble fibre binds to LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol’) in the blood, aiding its excretion.
Stabilising blood sugar: Because soluble fibre delays stomach emptying, the entry of glucose into the bloodstream is also delayed. Once glucose does begin to enter the bloodstream in the presence of soluble fibre, its release is slower and steadier…meaning no blood sugar spike. This makes it especially beneficial for people with diabetes, and a nutrient that can help reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
“So how much fibre should I be having?”
One thing to keep in mind with fibre: we all respond to it differently, and so we each have our own requirements, depending on our constitution. While some of us need extra roughage to get things moving for example, for others this may not be necessary.
For this reason, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have not established a Recommended
Daily Intake (RDI) for dietary fibre; rather, they have established what the Adequate Intake (AI) is for each life stage and gender, which for adults is:
25g of fibre/day for women 19+
30g of fibre/day for men 19+
This doesn’t mean you need to sit down and calculate how much fibre you’re getting into your system each day; if you eat a wholefood diet that’s largely plant-based (or are working towards doing so!), you should consuming at least the AI.
Let’s look at how easy it is to meet the Adequate Intake:
½ a cup cooked legumes gives you around 6-10g of fibre, depending on the legume used; for an on-the-go snack, Get Farmed! Dry Roasted Chickpea Supersnacks have 3.3g of fibre per single serve pack
½ cup oats (not the instant ones!) have about 8g of fibre
½ a cup of raspberries has around 4g of fibre, and a medium apple has over 3g of fibre
1 medium carrot has about 5.5g fibre
A couple handfuls of almonds will give you close to 4g of fibre; 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter has about 1.5g fibre
…So it can add up quickly and easily!
One more thing: Water is fibre’s best friend. You can be eating plenty of fibre, but if you’re not drinking sufficient water to get it moving along your digestive tract, things can get a bit stuck.
Are you getting enough variety of fibre into your diet?