Fibre has an important role in the maintenance of health. There are two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. You should aim to consume a variety of both types of fibre in your diet. The majority (about 80%) should be insoluble fibre with the remainder (around 20%) being soluble fibre. If you currently have little fibre in your diet you should start to introduce it slowly, as a sudden increase may cause bloating and gas.
Insoluble fibre is found mainly in cereals and grains. It absorbs water, increasing stool bulk making bowel movements easier and preventing constipation. It is important to drink plenty of water to help this process.
Good sources of insoluble fibre include:
• wholegrains like wheat, maize, rice (fibre found in the outer coating of the grain)
• root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, potatoes (include the skin)
• broccoli, cauliflower, turnip greens, green beans and leafy green vegetables
• fruits such as plums, oranges and prunes
• nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Soluble fibre is found in fruit, vegetables, oats, nuts and pulses. Although soluble fibre is important in the diet, eating too much of this type can lead to fermentation in the gut which can cause bloating and gas. This type of fibre has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels and can help balance blood sugar levels.
Good sources of soluble fibre include:
• cereals such as oats, barley and rye
• pulses and beans (haricot beans, broad beans, chickpeas, pintos, peas, lentils)
• fruits such as apples, pears and figs
• vegetables including carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes and onions.