Fibre and Gut Health
Over the past 5-10 years research into the human gut microbiome has increased exponentially. While we continue to learn more about our gut bugs, one thing experts agree on is that a diet high in a variety of plant fibre is essential to having a health gut microbiome, a healthy gut, and a healthy you.
What is Fibre?
Fibre is derived from structural parts of plants – fruit, vegetable, wholegrains, legumes. Fibre cannot be broken down by digestion and therefore contributes little to energy needs.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms gels and are digested (fermented) by gut bugs in our gut, adding to energy. Soluble fibre is found in oats, barley, legumes and citrus; it helps to lower blood glucose and cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre is found in whole grains and vegetables, and adds bulk to faeces.
Sources of Fibre
You need to eat 6-9 cups of vegetables and fruits every day to get the amount of fibre your gut needs. Choose a range of different vegetables and fruits each day – preferablyseasonal vegetables and fruits. Variety is the key. For example: artichoke, asparagus, bok choy, bean sprouts, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, chives, celery, cucumber, endive, fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, green beans, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, leeks, leafy greens, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsley, radish, rocket, shallots, spinach, snowpeas, sprouts, turnip, watercress, zucchini, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon/lime, mandarin, melon, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, rhubarb, rockmelon, strawberries.
Resistant Starch – gold for your gut bugs
Resistant starch is a type of insoluble fibre that behaves more like a soluble fibre – it feeds your gut bugs.
By feeding your beneficial gut bugs, resistance starch supresses potential pathogens and is important for metabolic and heart health.
Sources of Resistant Starch
Foods high in resistant starch included legumes (e.g. red kidney beans, butter beans, adzuki beans, lentils, black eyed beans, chickpeas); whole grain cereals e.g. brown rice; cooked and chilled white rice, potatoes, sweet potato and pasta (cooking and chilling causes modest rises in resistant starch); cashews, green peas, green banana flour, unripe bananas. Regularly include foods high in resistant starch in your daily diet – your gut bugs will thank you.
If you need help increasing fibre in your diet two of my favourite healthy eating books are The CSIRO Healthy Gut Diet and the Women’s Weekly The Good Gut Diet. Both books include recipes for breakfast, small meals and large meals (main meals), with some snacks and sweet treats. There are vegetarian options, gluten free options, soups, salads, food you can prepare and keep in the fridge for taking to work, or a quick reheat. I like the science in the CSIRO book – it helps you understand why you need to eat certain foods. Once you understand what foods are best for you, you can make better food choices on a regular basis.