Fibre might not be the sexiest topic (it often leads to talking about poop!) but it's super important to overall health and most Canadians only get about half of what they need.
Eating lots of fibre can help to keep things moving along in your digestive system, so helps you poop. But fibre helps beyond that for your inner wellness.
What is fibre?
Fibre is a natural, non-digestible part of plant foods that is broken down (fermented) by the good bacteria naturally living in your large intestine. It's then used as fuel for the good bacteria in your gut. A thriving gut with lots of good bacteria can keep your body and mind healthy.
Different fibres are found in different plant foods. So, to benefit from all the goodness fibre can deliver, eat a variety of plant foods every week.
Think whole grains (e.g. oats), bran (wheat, oat), fruits, vegetables, dried beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
It's easy to bump up the fibre in your day!
Look for simple ways to add more fibre to your day. Find ways to swap in fibre-filled options, like using barley instead of white rice. Fill half your plate with veggies at most meals and snack on veggies, fruits or nuts. Add some plant-based proteins into your weekly meal plan (e.g. chickpeas, black beans, lentils)
Here are a few tasty ideas to boost fibre intake:
✅ Add ground flax, chia and wheat bran to oatmeal at breakfast.
✅ Top a leafy green, veggie-filled power bowl with chickpeas or black beans for lunch.
✅ Eat a small handful of nuts and some sugar snap peas for a snack.
✅ Add canned, drained lentils to ground meat mixtures in dishes like tacos, lettuce wraps and lasagna.
✅ Enjoy berries and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
Fill up on fibre...but do it slowly!
If you're not used to eating lots of fibre-filled foods, be sure to add them into your day gradually so your gut can get used to it. Too much fibre, too fast can cause digestive discomfort like cramping, bloating and excessive gas (some gas is totally normal!). Also, drink plenty of water to help the fibre work better.
A high fibre diet might be an issue for people with digestive health issues; a registered dietitian can help you find the best fibre intake for you.
Muesli: a tasty addition to your day.
What I love about finding ways to add fibre to your day is that it's a positive approach -- you're adding in nourishing foods that can help boost your health. And that feels way better than trying to cut out foods you've been told you shouldn't eat.
This homemade muesli (like a no-added-sugar granola) tastes great and it's easy to make. Store it in an airtight container and sprinkle it onto fruit, salad, oatmeal or enjoy it on its own with milk as a breakfast cereal.
Here's the simple recipe for Vanilla-Kissed Toasted Almond Muesli:
1 1/2 cups oats (I use an ancient grain oats blend)
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 packages of vanillin powder
How to Make
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add the oats and slivered almonds to a baking sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes or until fragrant and just turning golden.
Let cool. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Store in an airtight container.
This is just a guide. Mix n' match muesli with whatever ingredients you love. Maybe dates? Sunflower seeds? Dark chocolate?
May your day be filled with fibre!
Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits, Nutrients 2013;5:1417-1435.
Makharia G et al. World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. Diet and the Gut, April 2018. http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/UserFiles/file/guidelines/diet-and-the-gut-english-2018.pdf.
de Vos WM and de Vos EAJ. Role of the intestinal microbiome in health and disease: from correlation to causation. Nutrition Reviews 2012;70(Suppl 1):S45-S56.