You might think that you eat a healthy diet - but are you getting enough fibre? Most people in the UK consume 18g of fibre a day, but to be healthy we should eat at least 30g a day.
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Two types of fibre
Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants. (Meat, fish and dairy products don't contain any fibre). There are two different types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Each helps the body in different ways, so a healthy diet should include both types.
Insoluble fibre is the tough stuff you find in wholegrains, fruit and veggies. It helps regulate digestion and prevents constipation, and helps to fill you up, which can help if you're trying to lose weight. Good sources include wholemeal bread, bran, cereals and nuts and seeds.
Soluble fibre dissolves in the water in your digestive system. It can be found in oats, barley, rye, beans, peas, avocadoes, bananas, apples, carrots and potatoes. It binds to cholesterol to regulate blood sugar and helps to maintain good gut health.
As well as improving digestive health, eating more fibre can help reduce your risk of various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers.
To increase the amount of fibre in your diet, try eating more veggies, snack on fruits and nuts instead of processed foods, and choose wholegrains wherever possible.
A word of warning
If you plan to up your fibre intake, do it gradually! A sudden increase can cause bloating, wind and stomach cramps. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to keep your digestion moving - aim to drink eight glasses of water a day, more while exercising or when it's hot.
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