Fibre, it isn’t the most glamorous nutrient in the world, but it’s an essential component of a healthy, balanced diet. Fibre is rather fabulous! It benefits the body in many ways – from reducing the risk of various diseases to aiding weight management and much more (1). Despite this, we don’t give fibre enough credit for all of its hard work! But what exactly is fibre? Fibre consists of polysaccharides found in plants, such as cellulose, which are resistant to human digestive enzymes. To put it simply, fibre forms the parts of plants which can’t be broken down in digestion (2). If you haven’t guessed it yet, fibre is primarily found in good old fruit and vegetables, along with wholegrains like bread, oats and rice.
There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre’s main role is to lower LDL cholesterol, whilst insoluble fibre aids regularity (like I said not the most glamourous topic of discussion – but it’s true!)(3,4). Together they help to increase the feeling of fullness and satiety, in turn supressing appetite (5). Soluble and insoluble fibre are often found together in fibre rich foods (1). Consuming a high fibre diet reduces the risk of bowel cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity (6, 7,8). We really don’t give fibre enough credit!
Unfortunately, in our western world the majority of us don’t eat enough fibre; our diets are often high in refined carbohydrates and processed foods and lacking in vital nutrients (9). But don’t fret! There are simple changes you can make to your diet that can go a long way. Start by swapping refined carbohydrates (like white bread and white rice) for their wholegrain alternatives – such as wholegrain bread, brown rice and wholewheat pasta. I promise you’ll hardly tell the difference! Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet, strive for at least five a day. Try grating a carrot into a fish pie or pasta sauce and get snacking on a fruit. Not only are fruit and veggies packed with fibre they’re full of vitamins and minerals (10). They keep our cogs turning!
Another benefit of a high fibre diet is a healthy gut. Prebiotics are a type of fibre which feed the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut microbiome (11). Some bacteria produce neurotransmitters which influence our sensory behaviour – which means some bacteria can influence our food choices (12). Evidence indicates that the more ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, that more healthy food choices you’ll make (13).
It’s also good to be aware of some high fibre ‘super foods’ – such as prunes, chia seeds and flaxseeds. A 30g portion of chia seeds contains approximately a third of an adult’s recommended daily fibre intake (15). These high fibre foods can easily be incorporated into your diet. For example, add them to some yogurt for a tasty, high fibre snack.
Top tips to increase fibre consumption:
- Swap refined carbohydrates for their wholesome wholegrain alternatives!
- Eat your five a day – or more if you can!
- Snack on fruit or vegetable sticks – they’ll help to fill the void till lunch time.
- Integrate high fibre foods into your diet – get on the chia seed band wagon!
- Check food labels for the fibre content – knowledge is power!
1 - British Nutrition Foundation (2018) Dietary Fibre. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/fibre.html [Accessed 15/10/19]
2 - Prosky, L., 1999. What is fibre? Current controversies. Trends in food science & technology, 10(8), pp.271-275.
3 - Smith, C.E. and Tucker, K.L., 2011. Health benefits of cereal fibre: a review of clinical trials. Nutrition research reviews, 24(1), pp.118-131.
4 - Erdogan, A., Rao, S.S.C., Thiruvaiyaru, D., Lee, Y.Y., Coss Adame, E., Valestin, J. and O'Banion, M., 2016. Randomised clinical trial: mixed soluble/insoluble fibre vs. psyllium for chronic constipation. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 44(1), pp.35-44.
5 - Chambers, L., McCrickerd, K. and Yeomans, M.R., 2015. Optimising foods for satiety. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 41(2), pp.149-160.
6 - Reynolds, A., Mann, J., Cummings, J., Winter, N., Mete, E. and Te Morenga, L., 2019. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet, 393(10170), pp.434-445.
7 - Hartley, L., May, M.D., Loveman, E., Colquitt, J.L. and Rees, K., 2016. Dietary fibre for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1).
8 - Hill, J.O., Melanson, E.L. and Wyatt, H.T., 2000. Symposium: Dietary Composition and Obesity: Do We Need to Look beyond Dietary Fat?. J Nutr, 130, pp.284-8.
9 - Burkitt, D.E.N.I.S. ed., 2012. Refined carbohydrate foods and disease. Elsevier.
10 - Dhandevi, P.E.M. and Jeewon, R., 2015. Fruit and vegetable intake: benefits and progress of nutrition education interventions-narrative review article. Iranian journal of public health, 44(10), p.1309.
11 – Dash,S., 2019. Prebiotic foods – the body and brain benefits of fibre. Nutridate, 30(2), p.3-6.
12- O’Donnell, M.P., Fox, B.W., Chao, P.H., Schroeder, F.C. and Sengupta, P., 2019. Modulation of sensory behavior and food choice by an enteric bacteria-produced neurotransmitter. BioRxiv, p.735845.
13 - Galland, L., 2014. The Gut Microbiome and the Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(12), p.1261.
14 - Makki, K., Deehan, E.C., Walter, J. and Bäckhed, F., 2018. The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Cell host & microbe, 23(6), p.705.
15 - Verdú, S., Barat, J.M. and Grau, R., 2017. Improving bread-making processing phases of fibre-rich formulas using chia (Salvia hispanica) seed flour. LWT, 84, pp.419-425.
This fantastic blog post was written by Nutrition Student Elysia Kenyon!
Social media really is the queen of 2019! It’s hugely influential, and it is full of nutrition advice – however, it can be difficult to identify what is fact and what is fiction. It is through social media that fad diets have risen in popularity, particularly among younger generations; these diets often promote weight loss through more extreme means. Fad diets are commonly identified by their restrictive nature, the elimination of certain foods or the elimination of entire food groups. However, this approach can result in the exclusion of vital nutrients (1). Although these diets may achieve weight loss, they do not necessarily promote health, nor do they achieve permanent results.
For example, the keto diet, it is used for the treatment of certain diseases such as epilepsy (2) and for the management of type two diabetes (3). This diet involves a reduction in carbohydrate consumption, both starchy carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are rich in nutrients and offer many health benefits; they are also associated with the reduced risk of various cancers (5). So, is carb cutting really the way forward? In addition to this, the keto diet permits an unlimited amount of saturated fat (4). Saturated fat is linked with various health conditions such as, cardiovascular disease (6). So, although the keto diet may indeed cause weight loss, unless you need it for medical purposes, there are healthier ways to shift a few pounds!
Diet and supplement pills are another common weight loss tool, which seem to be littered across the many social media platforms. These pills claim to facilitate magical weight loss with the click of your mouse, but unfortunately there is little research to support these claims. In addition to this, diet pills have been associated with various health risks and should not be used unnecessarily (7).
Fact or fiction really is the question. There are lots of people on social media who offer dietary advice, however it’s important that you check out their credentials and qualifications. Dietitians train for years to offer accurate dietary guidance based on up to date scientific studies. So, don’t be fooled by the filters on Instagram!
Another point which seems fitting to discuss are the unrealistic standards that social media has imposed upon us. It’s like your computer screen is wearing rose tinted glasses! It’s important to remember that most of what you see on social media isn’t real, it’s all about lighting, angles, editing and let not forget about filters. People are portraying the best versions of themselves, as they should - but in reality, nobody is perfect!
We all know weight loss, can be challenging and overwhelming but try not to resort to a quick fix. Extreme diets and diet pills come with a host of potential health risks - mainly because there is still so much unknown about them.
If you want to lose weight, let’s return to the basics – reduce your calorie intake! It is the most sustainable way to lose weight and achieve lasting results. A combination of a healthy balanced diet and a consistent fitness regime will go a long way on the road to weight loss.
Top tips to achieve sustainable weight loss:
- Reduce calorie intake – it’s all about energy in and energy out.
- Increase activity levels – find an activity you enjoy, I promise this is possible!!
- Consider your portion sizes – try using a smaller plate.
- Reduce alcohol consumption – no tears ladies and gents.
- Eat more fruit and veggies – they’re your nectar and ambrosia!
(1) Isolauri, E., Sütas, Y., Salo, M.K., Isosomppi, R. and Kaila, M., 1998. Elimination diet in cow's milk allergy: risk for impaired growth in young children. The Journal of pediatrics, 132(6), pp.1004-1009.
(2) Martin, K., Jackson, C.F., Levy, R.G. and Cooper, P.N., 2016. Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).
(3) Azar, S.T., Beydoun, H.M. and Albadri, M.R., 2016. Benefits of ketogenic diet for management of type two diabetes: a review. J Obes Eat Disord, 2(02).
(4) Freeman, J.M., Kossoff, E.H. and Hartman, A.L., 2007. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics, 119(3), pp.535-543.
(5) Ziegler, R.G., 1991. Vegetables, fruits, and carotenoids and the risk of cancer. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 53(1), pp.251S-259S.
(6) Hooper, L., Martin, N., Abdelhamid, A. and Smith, G.D., 2015. Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (6).
(7) Futures Recovery Healthcare. (2018). Harmful Effects of Diet Pills and Supplements. [online] Available at: https://futuresrecoveryhealthcare.com/knowledge-center/harmful-effects-diet-pills-supplements/ [Accessed 2 Sep. 2019].