Part 1 of 4.
Most of us know that fibre is good for us, and that we need it to keep us regular in the bathroom. But the benefits of dietary fibre go well beyond healthy bowel function, and most of us aren’t getting enough.
Getting enough fibre can be even trickier, if we need to limit or avoid certain plant foods (eg. those on gluten free and low FODMAP diets).
Let’s explore, with our expert gastrointestinal and food intolerance dietitian, Marnie Nitschke.
What is fibre and how much do we need?
Fibre is the indigestible part of plants - including fruits, vegetables and legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Fibre comes in lots of different forms, that have wide ranging health benefits for our gut health, nourishing our gut microbiome and reducing our risk of chronic disease.
Daily fibre recommendations for Australian adults range anywhere from 25g to 38g. Why?
Based on a heap of research, The Australian NHMRC (National Health and Medical Recommendations Council) gives us two targets:
- The ‘adequate intake’ level (which essentially translates to the amount we might need to avoid constipation).
- And the ‘suggested target’ - which is higher - and shown to be associated with reduced overall chronic health disease risk (heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even dementia).
- The adequate daily intake (AI) is 25g for women, and 28g for men
- But the optimal (suggested target) is 28g for women and 38g for men – this is really where we want to be aiming!
So, you’re likely now thinking: What does a gram of fibre look like?
Talking about grams of fibre, adequate and suggested targets isn’t really helpful, if you don’t know what a gram of fibre looks like, in food terms. The image below might help a bit – it shows the fibre content of various gluten free foods, per average serve.
Fibre (grams) Food (serve size)
5.0 Quinoa (1 cup) - GF & LFM
4.5 Buckwheat (1 cup cooked) - GF & LFM
7.9 Wholemeal pasta (1 cup)
5.5 Kidney beans (1/2 cup) - GF
2.9 Corn (1/2 medium cob) - GF & LFM
4.5 Rolled Oats (1/2 cup)
2.85 Broccoli (3/4 cup cooked) - GF & LFM
3.7 Lentils (100g) - GF
3.7 Sweet potato (skin on 1/2 cup) - GF & LFM
2.7 Brown rice (1 cup) - GF & LFM
2.6 Almonds (30g) 25 almonds - GF
IN part 2 we explore:
Ten simple suggestions to boost your fibre intake. Read here >
As always, consult with an experienced Accredited Practising Dietitian for personalised advice about fibre and your health.