We often hear how important it is to get enough fibre, but how much do you really know about it? Test yourself and find out!
Q. What is dietary fibre?
(a) The sinewy parts of red meats (b) Indigestible parts of plants (c) The chewy parts of bread products
A. (b) Fibre is made up of the indigestible parts of plants (fruit, vegies, nuts, seeds and grains) that pass through our stomach and small intestine, to the colon (large intestine) where it’s broken down by bacteria.
Q. Which is higher in fibre?
(a) 30g raw mixed nuts, or (b) 1 medium sized apple
A. (b) 1 medium-sized apple. This has about 3.3g of fibre, compared to 2.3g fibre in the raw mixed nuts.
True or false? All fibre is the same
A. False. There are two main types of fibre; soluble and insoluble, and it’s important to include a mix of both. Soluble fibre is broken down in the colon. It helps to control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol absorption from our food and help the colon healthy. It does this by ‘cleaning’ the gut (getting everything moving through faster). Soluble fibre is found in grains (especially oats, barley and rye), legumes, psyllium and some fruits. Insoluble fibre is ‘roughage’ and adds bulk to stools, helping to promote regularity. Wholegrain bread, wheat bran, legumes, nuts and the edible skins of fruit and vegies are all good sources of insoluble fibre.
Q. Eating enough fibre may help
(a) Prevent constipation (b) Reduce the risk of heart disease (c) Reduce the risk of some cancers (d) All of the above
A. (d) A high-fibre diet has all these effects. It’s essential for digestive health and keeping us regular. But it can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease (by helping to control cholesterol and blood pressure) and some cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Women should aim to eat 25g of fibre per day and men 30g.
True or false? It’s important to drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) when eating a high-fibre diet
A. True. Fibre, specifically soluble fibre, needs water in order to ‘plump up’ inside the gut, soften stools and get everything moving through the digestive system more easily. A high-fibre diet may actually worsen constipation unless you drink enough water. Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres per day.
Q. A food can claim it is ‘high in fibre’ on its label if it contains
(a) 1g fibre per serve (b) 3g fibre per serve (c) 5g fibre per serve
A. (b) Manufacturers may use the words ‘source of fibre’ if a product has 1.5g of fibre per serve, ‘high in fibre’ if a product has 3g of fibre per serve or ‘very high in fibre’ if a product has 6g of fibre per serve. Try to choose products like breads, cereals and muesli bars that contain at least 3g of fibre per serve.
Q. Which of these is a good way to increase your fibre intake?
(a) Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice (c) Replace meat with beans or lentils for ‘Meatless Mondays’ (b) Snack on raw vegies instead of crackers or chips
A. All of these are great ideas for increasing the fibre in your day. Also, try replacing white bread, rice and pasta with wholegrain or brown versions as they often contain two to three times the fibre. Replace red meat or poultry with legumes (lentils, kidney beans or four bean mix) a few times a week, it’s an easy way to up your fibre.
Q. Which is higher in fibre?
(a) 1/2 cup baked beans (b) 1/2 cup chickpeas
A. (a) The baked beans have 7.5g fibre, compared to 4.5g fibre in the chickpeas.
True or false? A medium-sized pear with the skin on has as much fibre as 1 cup of cooked porridge
A. True. A pear has more than 4g fibre. Try a pear with the skin on for your next snack!
Q. What’s the best way to increase your fibre intake?
(a) Gradually add fibre-rich foods (b) Start eating the daily recommendation straight away (c) Start taking fibre supplements to get enough
A. (a) Making a drastic change to the amount of fibre you eat may cause symptoms such as gas, bloating and cramps, as it takes a little while for your body to adjust. Start slowly, add in one or two high-fibre foods to begin with and spread your fibre intake over the day.