Constipation Advice

High Fibre Foods

Facts about Fibre

Keeping Us Healthy Inside

We all know that fibre is an essential part of a balanced diet, but what is Fibre? Fibre is a carbohydrate made up from the indigestible parts of plants, which passes through our digestive system relatively unchanged. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.

Water-soluble fibre is the pectins (edible portions) of fruits, vegetables and seeds, and could have the added benefit of lowering cholesterol.

Insoluble fibre is cellulose found in wheat bran and other grains - it is also referred to as 'roughage'.

Hard-working Fibre

Fibre's main function is to help keep our digestive system healthy. But what does it do exactly that makes it so important?

The answer is a lot:

  • It adds the bulk our stool needs to enable it to move through the gastro-intestinal tract.

  • It softens the waste material and speeds up its passage through our body, ensuring that any potential toxins do not remain in the bowel for longer than necessary.

  • It promotes a slow, steady absorption of nutrients from food.

  • It helps to slow down the absorption of sugars, thus helping to keep insulin levels steady

A balanced diet includes a recommended 18 - 30 grams of fibre a day yet the average adult intake contains just 12 grams. 1

Boosting your Fibre Intake

Importance of fibre Fibre-rich foods are not known as the tastiest foods around. Luckily, some simple measures can increase the fibre content in the average diet almost without you noticing. Switching from white to wholemeal bread, from white to whole-wheat pasta or from white to brown rice is an effective way to boost your fibre intake. Adding an extra vegetable to the evening meal is another easy measure, while snacking on fruit can help towards digestive health.

Children can be enticed to eat more fibre by sprinkling bran flakes over their yoghurt or other dessert. Some fibre-rich foods are actually children's favourites: jacket potatoes and baked beans, for example, or whole-wheat cereal biscuits.

Always make sure you drink enough, though. Fibre is only effective in preventing constipation if taken with enough fluid - about two litres or eight glasses is recommended.

Drinks like Fybogel can also be taken daily to treat constipation and to help maintain bowel regularity. One daily dose (one sachet or two level 5ml spoonfuls) can provide 1/3rd of your recommended daily fibre intake. For more information, click here (contains ispaghula husk - always read the label).

1 - COMA Report, DoH UK 1991

See other related material:

  • Click here to view our fibre foods table

  • Try using our digestive health assessment quiz to find out if your diet and bowel habits can be improved.

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