New research has revealed the majority of people in the world don’t eat a sufficient amount of fibre to prevent life-threatening health conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.
According to government guidelines published in July 2015, the average person should consume approximately 30g of fibre a day.
However, most adults only manage 60 per cent of their recommended daily fibre intake.
While eating certain high-fibre foods can have an adverse effect on some individuals suffering from intestinal disorders, regularly consuming a sufficient quantity of fibre can help keep your digestive system in a healthy and stable condition.
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So what are the best ways to include more fibre in your diet? Here’s everything you need to know:
Everything in moderation
Increasing your fibre intake isn’t as simple as including as many high-fibre foods in your diet as possible as quick as you can.
You need to give your body time to acclimatise, explains the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research (CSIR).
“You should not rush incorporating fibre into your diet because you need to give your system time to adjust,” the organisation states.
“Look at fibre as giving your digestive system a workout. As with lifting weights, you should start slowly and with a small amount.”
According to the society, you should switch to high-fibre foods in gradual stages.
For example, after adding whole grain bread to your diet, after a week or two you should then start eating more fruit or transitioning to brown rice.
Fluid is key
It’s important when adding more high-fibre foods to your diet to supplement them with lots of fluid.
If you’re not drinking enough water then you may not experience the benefits attributed to a high-fibre diet, such as the prevention of constipation.
“Some very high-fibre breakfast cereals may have around 10g of fibre per serve, and if this cereal is not accompanied by enough fluid, it may cause abdominal discomfort or constipation,” outlines the Better Health Channel, from the department of health and human services in the state of Victoria, Australia.
If you’re prone to enjoying a hot cup of coffee on occasion, then you’ll need to drink even more water to ensure that the high-fibre foods in your diet are having a positive effect on your wellbeing.
“Make sure, if you drink coffee, alcohol, or both, that you increase fluid intake further to counteract the diuretic (water losing) effects of caffeine and alcohol,” says the CSIR.
What foods to include
Eating one kind of high-fibre food in excess isn’t an ideal approach, the NHS outlines.
Instead, you should try to introduce variation into your diet by eating high-fibre foods from different sources.
Here are some ways for you to start eating more high-fibre foods:
They say it’s the most important meal of the day, and with good reason.
Instead of a sugary cereal, you could opt for a whole-grain cereal or a tasty bowl of porridge for your first portion of fibre for the day.
Wholegrain bread and pasta
The NHS recommends increasing your fibre intake by eating wholemeal or granary breads, high-fibre white bread and wholewheat pasta.
Eating wholegrains such as bulgar wheat and brown rice is also a wise course of action.
Potatoes with the skin on
Starchy foods such as potatoes, bread and pasta are important for balanced diet.
When eating potatoes, the NHS advises eating them with the skin in as an easy way of adding more fibre to your diet.
Pulses, which include foods such as baked beans, chickpeas, lentils and runner beans, are a great source of fibre.
They also count towards your recommended portion of five fruits and vegetables a day.
It’s important to ensure you consume an adequate amount of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eating dried fruit is also an advantageous way to add more fibre to your diet.
However, too much dried fruit can have a detrimental effect on your teeth, so make sure you eat dried fruit in moderation.