FI­BRE is For­ward-Think­ing

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about fi­bre? Is it stay­ing reg­u­lar? Well, if you don’t al­ready know, there is so much more to this lit­tle food com­po­nent than you ever imag­ined. Think about some­thing that helps to keep you healthy, feeds the good bugs in your tummy, helps you feel fuller for longer, keeps you reg­u­lar and helps blood sugar and choles­terol lev­els to stay steady. There are dif­fer­ent types of fi­bre, each with a dif­fer­ent func­tion and you need a mix­ture of these for good health. Sol­u­ble fi­bres are found in oats, bar­ley, fruits, veg­eta­bles and legumes. These slow di­ges­tion, help con­trol blood sugar and choles­terol lev­els. In­sol­u­ble fi­bres like that found in ce­real bran, skins of fruits and veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds help to keep you reg­u­lar and pro­mote di­ges­tive health. There are also fer­mentable fi­bres that act as pre­bi­otics, the food for healthy bac­te­ria in your colon, and they are found in a va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles and fruits.

Yet only half of South Africans achieve their fi­bre goals daily.

The rec­om­mended daily fi­bre re­quire­ment is around 25–30g per day for adults, and chil­dren need fi­bre too. For chil­dren over the age of 2 years, cal­cu­late their daily fi­bre re­quire­ments by us­ing the “age + 5” for­mula. For ex­am­ple, a 6-year-old-child (+ 5) re­quires 11g of fi­bre per day. Al­though at first glance these rec­om­men­da­tions would seem sim­ple to achieve, the truth is that most of us need to in­crease our cur­rent fi­bre in­take in or­der to reach these tar­gets.

So, how do I in­crease my fi­bre in­take?

Fi­bre is all about bal­ance. Get­ting a bal­ance of fi­bres from dif­fer­ent sources is also the key to en­joy­ing a host of ben­e­fits that can lead to over­all well-be­ing.

Here are some ways how:

Eat 4–6 serv­ings of whole-grain of high-fi­bre grains and ce­re­als per day Eat 2 serv­ings of fruit with the skin on per day Eat 5 serv­ings of veg­eta­bles per day Eat at least 1 serv­ing of nuts, seeds or legumes per day Eat these ev­ery day, to­gether with lean pro­tein, healthy fats and good qual­ity dairy food and you will be singing, be­cause fi­bre is some­thing you could al­ways have more of. If your fi­bre in­take is cur­rently low, in­crease your fi­bre in­take grad­u­ally to avoid symp­toms such as bloat­ing and gas and al­low your di­ges­tive sys­tem to ad­just to the higher in­take. Re­mem­ber to drink plenty of fluid such as water or de­caf­feinated bev­er­age op­tions like Rooi­bos or her­bal teas, to al­low the fi­bre to do its job prop­erly. As al­ways, aim for 8–10 cups of fluid per day, to be con­sumed at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

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