Heart of the matter-Facts on Fibre

By June Shannon Nutrition News   |   17th Aug 2018

Our expert dietitian Sarah Noone shares her top tips on how to ensure you are getting enough fibre in your diet.

At the Irish Heart Foundation, we aim to provide accurate and evidence-based information on heart health to help you make informed decisions about your health.

Did you know that the vast majority or 80 per cent of people in Ireland are not getting enough fibre in their diets? Thankfully our expert dietitian Sarah Noone is on hand to talk us through the facts on fibre and share her top tips on how to ensure you are getting enough fibre in your diet.

"An increased amount of fibre has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers."

Sarah Noone, Dietitian , Irish Heart Foundation

What is Fibre?

Sarah explained that dietary fibre is the name for parts of foods that cannot be completely broken down by our digestive systems. Fibre is found in carbohydrates such as wholemeal flour, bread, oats and in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.

Why do we need it?

Sarah said that fibre was “extremely important.”
“It not only helps keep our digestive systems and bowels in good working order, but an increased amount of fibre has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

Are all types of fibre the same? How much of each type should I be eating?

According to Sarah, there are two main types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. She explained that both soluble and insoluble fibre had different effects on our bodies and health, so it was important to include a mix of both in our diets.

“Insoluble fibre or roughage, found in whole-grains, wholemeal flour, edible skins of fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, is probably what you think about when you think of fibre. It helps us to have a healthy digestive system by passing through our bodies without being broken down. This also helps other foods move through too, reducing the amount of time that takes,” Sarah explained.

Meanwhile soluble fibre, found in the fleshy part of fruit and vegetables, oats, beans and pulses, dissolves in the stomach to form a gel. This type of fibre helps to keep stools soft, which may help prevent and treat constipation and may also help lower cholesterol.

Sarah said that while there weren’t any specific recommendations on the amounts of each type of fibre we should eat, the main thing was to get plenty of fibre in a variety of wholegrains, beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables, as this will help you get the benefits of both types.

Two slices of wholemeal bread contain 5g of fibre.

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How much fibre should I be eating?

It is recommended we should eat 24-35g of fibre a day. Two slices of wholemeal bread contain 5g of fibre. The recommended amount for children is their age plus 5g fibre per day. So, a five-year-old child should be getting 10 g a day (5 years + 5g of fibre).

How much fibre do you eat in a day?

Sarah advised that the best way to know just how much fibre you are eating every day was to start by checking labels and looking at the ‘per serving’ column for fibre.

Top tips on how to get more fibre in your diet

Finally, Sarah advised that if you are increasing the fibre in your diet, you should always increase your intake gradually, as going from a little to a lot can cause discomfort. She also said it was important to drink enough as fibre needs fluid to do its job.

 

 

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