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Secrets to getting more fibre into your diet to stop constipation

So why do we need fibre?

Fibre is an important component of a healthy balanced diet.

We get fibre from plant-based foods, but it’s not something the body can absorb.

This means fibre is not a nutrient and contains no calories or vitamins.

Fibre helps your digestive system to process food and absorb nutrients. Fibre can help to lower blood cholesterol. Fibre makes you feel fuller and so helps to control your appetite.

Are all types of fibre the same?

No! There are two types of fibre: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble Fibre

It helps your bowel to pass food by making stools soft and bulky.

This type of fibre helps prevent constipation.

Insoluble fibre is found in the following foods:

  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Fruits with edible seeds
  • Lentils
  • Maize
  • Oats
  • Pulses
  • Wheat bran
  • Wholegrain breads
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Wholemeal breads
  • Wholemeal cereals
  • Wholemeal pasta
  • Wholewheat flour

Soluble Fibre

This type of fibre lowers cholesterol levels and controls blood sugar.

It can be found in all fruit and vegetables, but the following are rich sources:

  • Apples
  • Barley
  • Citrus
  • Oats
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

How much do I need?

Current advice says adults should aim for 18g fibre a day. Most of us eat less than this, and the British Nutrition Foundation puts the average adult intake at 14g.

How much fibre do foods contain?

Breakfast cereals are our most usual source of dietary fibre. Below are some examples of other foods, so you can compare fibre content. You can also check nutrition labels to find out how much fibre something contains.

What’s good?

The British foundation has issued the following guidelines for labelling food.

  • High Fibre should contain 6g fibre per 100g or ml.
  • A source of fibre should contain 3g fibre per 100g or ml.
  • One portion penne pasta (90g dry weight): 2.3g fibre.
  • One portion wholewheat pasta (90g dry weight): 9g fibre.
  • One bowl Healthwise Bran flakes (30g): 4.5g fibre.
  • One bowl fruit and fibre cereal (30g): 2.7g fibre.
  • One slice (28g) white bread: 0.8g fibre.
  • One slice (28g) wholemeal bread: 1.9g fibre.
  • One portion (80g) lentils: 1.5g fibre.
  • One orange (160g): 2.7g fibre.
  • 80g boiled cabbage: 1.7g fibre.

How do I increase dietary fibre?

Because fibre is central to your bowel health, be careful about suddenly increasing your intake and overburdening your digestive system.

You should only aim for a 5g increase over a three to five day period, and drink plenty of water for it to be effective.

Make sure you get both forms of fibre in your diet.

Tips for healthy living

  1. Start the day with a high-fibre cereal or try this recipe for muesli. Mix oats, bran flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, and assorted chopped dried fruits.
  2. For something a little crunchier, toss the oats, seeds and bran lightly in oil, add honey and bake at 150C for 45 minutes. Add the dried fruit and nuts last.
  3. Add lentils, pearl barley, brown rice or cracked wheat to casseroles and soups.
  4. Finish a meal off with an orange or have a citrus fruit as a mid-morning snack.
  5. Replace white bread with wholegrain and seed loaves, they have the highest fibre and nutrient content.
  6. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. They are cheap, easy to prepare and delicious when eaten with a fresh sliced banana and maple syrup.

This article was kindly supplied by Caroline Ward, owner of Love My Fitness based in Kent.

© Copyright 2015 Find My Fitness.

 

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Would you Adam or Eve it?

Apples have been tempting us since the garden of Eden.  Fat free and fibre rich, they are handy sized packs of energy for tucking into lunch boxes, conveniently packaged in their own silky skin, and satisfyingly crunchy and sweet.  They have a low glycaemic index, which means they release glucose into the bloodstream slowly and so keep hunger pangs at bay for longer.  While they are a good source of vitamin C the amount varies between varieties and freshness. Research shows that a flavonoid (quercetin) in apples can apple lower blood cholesterol.

Years ago, during the cold winter months, apples were often the only fruit available and were carefully packed in newspaper or straw and stored.  In the 40s and 50s my father had an old chest of drawers in the garden shed where apples and pears from local farms and our own single tree were carefully kept in their straw blankets away from frost. Then as soon as the stored fruits began to shrivel in the spring they were baked in their jackets and dolloped with custard, packed into pies, stewed to accompany meat and stuffed into dumplings.  In Autumn hard working housewives made windfalls and crab apples into chutneys and jams and jellies, homemade and very potent wine and cider.   Scrumping for apples was a favourite pastime of many a small boy (and girl).

The hundreds of varieties easily available all the year round now present a diversity of smell, flavour and texture  Each variety has its culinary virtues.

The Bramley is the classic English cooker – green-skinned, and slightly acid-fleshed, it melts to a soft smoothness as a sauce for pork and ham. As it’s pectin-rich, it makes lovely jelly to flavour with herbs. Simply chop the whole fruit, cook to a purée with enough water to cover, drain through a cloth overnight and boil up the juice with its own volume of sugar until setting point is reached (dab a drop on a saucer and push with your finger: when it wrinkles, it’s ready). Stir in some chopped mint, thyme or tarragon, pot and seal.

Cox’s Orange Pippin bakes fluffily: simply core, stuff with raisins, drizzle with honey and cook in the oven along with the Sunday roast.

Egremont Russet – citrus-scented, and light-fleshed , ideal with strong cheese (not that we should have this regularly!) and  delicious when cooked  with cloves and cinnamon.

Discovery and Spartan – both sweet, crisp-fleshed, and scarlet-skinned. They have a faint flavour of raspberries and are gorgeous with duck or game or added in chunks to a chicken casserole near the end of the cooking time.

Fiesta (also called Red Pippin) is a cross between Cox and the crisp American variety Ida Red, has all the virtues but is a better keeper than Cox.

Granny Smith is beautiful with broccoli or red or dark-leaved cabbages.

Golden Delicious holds its shape when cooked and  won’t collapse when pushed whole into a chicken or turkey with a moistening stuffing.

Gala from New Zealand, is similar to the Golden Delicious and available in petite size.

Empire, an American variety, is an all-rounder.

When choosing fruit, examine carefully for bruising or wrinkling, judge juiciness by the ratio of weight to volume in your hand, and use your nose to select for fragrance. Don’t discard any apple that has spent too long in the fruit bowl – just cut out the bad bits and cook the rest.  It may not have all the virtues of a fresh one but will certainly be worth eating with chicken or pork.

This article was kindly supplied by Susan Booth, owner of Alive Fitness based in Derby.

© Copyright 2015 Find My Fitness.