It may not be sexy, but the fibre is the superfood most of us
While the trendy world of health focuses on adaptogens and the benefits of CBD oil, Harley Street dietitian Rachel Clarkson says if she could choose a superfood, hers would be fibre. Fibre? Isn’t that just something our grandparents were obsessed with? Being ‘regular’? Apparently not. Rachel says that this indigestible form of carbohydrate has multiple health benefits and we all need to get on-board. And it’s not about eating All-Bran either.
Last year, a study by the University of Otago, New Zealand showed that people with a high-fibre diet were more likely to live longer and be disease-free. With so much talk about inflammation being the root cause of disease, Rachel says fibre is one of the best antidotes. ‘Fibre is insoluble so it makes its way to the large intestine and is met by your microbiome where the bacteria ferment it. This produces short-chain fatty acids, which are potent anti-inflammatories.’ Fibre is also prebiotic, so bacteria feeds off it, which increases the diversity of our stomach’s microbiome, and a healthier gut means a happier you. Plus research shows that fibre can help prevent colon cancer.
Then there’s weight loss. Rachel explains that fibre swells in the stomach, which keeps us fuller for longer and, when eaten with water, it slows sugar release into the blood system, keeping energy and mood levels stable. Fibre is even shown, she says, to boost metabolism because your body tries to break fibre down and uses up more energy doing so, zapping a few calories.
So while modern diets are preoccupied with eating low carb and keto (high fat), it looks like we need more roughage in our lives. The World Health Organization says we should be consuming 30g of fibre a day but in fact, we are getting half of that. Rachel stresses the importance of getting fibre from plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses, lentils, beans or oats, and not as most people think, from bran-based breakfast cereal. She also suggests upping your fibre intake slowly to avoid digestive issues.
So what does a gram of fibre look like? Well, an apple contains 4.4g. Raspberries and blackberries are some of the highest fibre fruits with 4g per half-cup, while green beans have 2g, asparagus 3g, and artichoke hearts 4.8g. If you have a salad, says Rachel, you should add some of these vegetables to it or some chickpeas (6.2g fibre per half-cup). Chia seeds are an amazing source of fibre with a whacking 8.3g of fibre in two tablespoons, as is bulgur wheat (4.1g per half-cup). Meanwhile, white bread has 0-1g of fibre per slice while wholemeal has 3-4g.
And Rachel has one big tip-off: basil seeds. Set to be the new chia, they provide myriad health benefits and 14g of fibre in two tablespoons. Selling for $20 a packet in the States, buy them on Amazon for £2.99.
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