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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Matt Perkins, Senior Wellbeing Manager and Qualified Nutritionist for the Kellogg’s Happy Guts range discusses the ‘fibre crisis’ affecting the UK and ways in which we can up our daily fibre intake…

Why are people not getting enough fibre?

Only a tenth of the UK population is getting enough fibre, so it’s likely you could be missing out if you’re not stocking up on the right foods. Someone who is following a classic Westernised diet (which is high in processed food, and traditionally unbalanced) will really struggle to get their full daily fibre intake. Unfortunately, this classic Westernised diet now means one that is high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, calorie dense and low in vitamins and minerals, with low intake of fruits, grains and cereals

How do we feel if we’re not getting enough fibre?

The most common side-effects of a diet lacking in fibre are the least glamorous. Symptoms such as sluggish bowels, constipation, and runny stools can all mean you’re not getting quite enough. A lot of people mistakenly diagnose themselves with IBS, but are actually experiencing sluggish bowels as a result of low fibre. But unfortunately, the damage doesn’t just stop there. Emerging science is showing us that a lack of fibre impacts your gut microbiome, meaning you have fewer healthy bacterial strains, compared to someone who is following a plant-based high fibre diet.

What are some ways to increase your fibre intakes?

The Mediterranean diet is seen as one of the most gut healthy diets. As well as being high in olive oil, a gut friendly food, it’s high in polyphenols to stimulate the growth of gut-friendly bacteria. Beans, legumes, and brown bread can also help contribute to hitting that all important 30g. Having some All-Bran at breakfast is the quickest and easiest way to get a third of your daily intake, with 11g per bowl, the equivalent of five slices of wholemeal toast.

Discover some of our popular Mediterranean diet recipes.

Approximately what percentage of your plate should be fibre?

You should aim for high fibre or wholegrain versions of starchy carbohydrates (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereals) which account for approximately a third of the Eatwell plate.   Fruits and vegetables are another high fibre source which should account for another third of the Eatwell plate.  Adults should aim for at least 30g of fibre a day from a variety of high fibre sources from these 2 food groups.

QUICK HACKS TO UP YOUR FIBRE INTAKE:

Go for wholemeal or seeded wholegrain breads. If your family only typically likes white bread, why not try the versions that combine white and wholemeal flours as a start?

Choose wholegrains like whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice

Go for potatoes with skins rather than peeling them e.g. baked potato, wedges or boiled new potatoes – you can eat these hot or use for a salad.

Include plenty of vegetables with meals – either as a side dish or salad or added to sauces, stews or curries – this is a good way of getting children to eat more veg.

Keep a supply of frozen vegetables so you are never without.

Instead of meat, add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.

Have some fresh or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert or a sweeter snack.

For daytime snacks, instead of crisps or chocolate try fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts or seeds.

What foods are naturally high in fibre?

Gram for gram, grains are more fibre dense than other fibre sources. This is why, without cereals it’s very difficult to achieve your daily fibre recommendation of 30g.

The Mediterranean diet is seen as one of the most gut healthy diets in the world. It’s a diverse diet rich in grains, fruit and vegetables, all of which are high in fibre, as well as being high in olive oil, a gut friendly food, omega-3’s and polyphenols which have been shown to stimulate the growth of gut-friendly bacteria

Wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye as well as beans, nuts and legumes, can also help you hit that all important 30g.

Discover the many ways you can introduce more fibre into your diet with some of our high-fibre recipes.

Find out more about the Happy Guts Range from Kelloggs.