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The one food that could save your life, and you’re probably not eating enough of it...
It’s natural, vegan friendly and according to the NHS there’s strong evidence that eating plenty of it is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
It can also help your digestion, prevent constipation and weight gain, as well as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
And now the results from a major study published in The Lancet, have all the major news and media outlets from the BBC, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Sun, raving about these huge benefits for your health.
So what is it?
Welcome to the humble world of dietary fibre... sounds sexy? Probably not...
But researchers have found how much we really need to eat and that there are big health benefits in doing so.
How much fibre do we actually need?
The NHS already recommends that adults increase to 30g a day, and that most of us in the UK are only getting 18g a day.
Researchers at the University of Otago, in New Zealand and the University of Dundee, say there are benefits from taking more than 30g.
Where do we get fibre from?
You only find fibre in plant foods: fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains, cereals and pulses, including lentils and chickpeas.
So forget bacon and eggs, think more Weetabix and brown bread. And before you say, "I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables", let’s look at exactly how much fibre you’re actually getting:
How much fibre is 30g exactly?
40g serving of porridge oats - 4g
two Weetabix - 3g
thick slice wholemeal bread - 3g
half a can of baked beans 7.5g
an apple with the skin on 4g
medium size potato with skin - 2.5g
a large carrot 3g
100g broccoli 3g
And you have to eat this amount every day...
Where to start?
While completely changing your diet is just not possible for most of us, there are some simple steps you can take that will make a difference:
Cooking vegetables with their skin on.
Replacing white breads, pasta and rice for wholemeal versions
Have a high fibre breakfast such as porridge oats
Adding beans, chickpeas and lentils to your lunch or dinner.
Snacking on nuts and fruit instead of sweets and crips.
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Help! Are there any shortcuts?
Yes! While it’s important to ensure you’re eating both a varied and balanced diet that’s high in fibre, there are some shortcuts you can take to really bump up your fibre intake.
Organic Prebiotic Inulin Fibre. Inulin has almost no taste, and just 1 tsp will provide 4.5g of fibre, you can take up to 2 tsp a day, so that’s already 9g of fibre. Inulin is also a soluble fibre, and it’s recommended that your fibre includes some soluble fibre.
Organic Chia Seeds - a 10g serving of these little seeds will give you almost 4g of fibre, as well as being rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
How will it benefit me?
The Lancet study analysed 185 previous studies and clinical trials, which on average followed their subjects for 10 to 20 years.
It showed that people eating a high fibre diet, had lower levels of type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer, as well as lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And what’s more, the more fibre they ate, the better.
Why does your body need fibre?
Fibre affects the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine and also makes you feel full, so you're less likely to over eat.
However, as it moves into the large intestine it feeds the ‘good’ gut bacteria, which plays such an important part to your overall health and wellbeing.
Including a major role in your immune system, your emotions and the production of vitamins and fatty acids.
Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge says: "We need to take serious note of this study".
"Its findings do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fibre from whole-grains.
This research confirms that fibre and whole-grain intakes are clearly important for longer term health."