Fibre is a part of plants that we are unable to digest, which helps to keep our bowels healthy
Soluble Fibre– helps to make the stool soft and easy to pass through the bowel by absorbing water
Soluble fibre can be found in:
- fruit and vegetables
Insoluble Fibre– Allows the stool to travel through the bowel faster and provides bulk
Insoluble fibre can be found in:
- breads and cereals (wholegrain varieties)
- nuts and seeds
- raw lentils
Resistant Starch– also classified as a dietary fibre. Resistant starch is not digested, bacteria in the gut break it down which helps to keep the digestive system healthy.
Resistant Starch can be found in:
- ‘al-dente’ (slightly undercooked) pasta
- unripe bananas
- whole legumes
It is important to eat a variety of both insoluble and soluble fibre in order to achieve optimal fibre intake.
- Keep you ‘regular’
- Can lower cholesterol
- Prevent constipation
- Reduce risk of bowel cancer
- Makes you feel fuller for longer
Sudden transition from a low fibre diet to a high fibre diet (a diet, rich in vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes) can cause some upset in the gut such as bloating and cramps. Therefore it is beneficial to ease into a diet rich in fibre, so that the gastrointestinal tract can adjust.
- 25-30g per day
- 6 serves of grain foods, 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit will provide this
Example of how an adult could meet the daily fibre requirement
|2 slices helga’s whole-meal grain bread||6g|
|1/4 cup legumes e.g. baked beans||3g|
|2 cups of mixed raw vegetables||10g|
example serving sizes of the vegetable, grain and fruit food groups
|A Standard Serve of Vegetables=||A Standard Serve of Fruit=||A Standard Serve of Grains=|
|1/2 cup cooked green or orange vegetables||1 medium piece of fruit (e.g. apple)||1 slice of bread|
|1/2 of dried or cooked beans||2 small fruit (e.g. apricots)||1/2 medium roll|
|1 cup of salad||1 cup of chopped fruit||1/2 cup of cooked pasta, rice, noodles quinoa etc|
|1/2 medium potato||handful of dried fruit (30g)||1/2 cup cooked porridge|
|1 medium tomato||2/3 cup of wheat cereal or 1/4 cup muesli|
It is important to drink enough fluids when eating high fibre foods in order to avoid constipation. 8-10 cups are recommended and water is ideal
As university students often lead ‘on the go’ lifestyles many can find it difficult to meet the fibre recommendations.
Below are some simple tips to increase fibre intake:
- Eating the skin of fruit and vegetables
- Using wholemeal, wholegrain or rye bread
- Snacking on raw vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, nuts or wholemeal crackers in-between meals
- Eat breakfast cereals that contain barley, wheat or oats.
- Switch to brown rice and pasta
- Add an extra vegetables to every evening meal.
Fibre containing snack options
below are snack options that could be taken to university or eaten at home while studying that can boost daily fibre intake
- wholegrain crackers with hommus dip
- variety of different raw vegetables (skin eaten) cut up and eaten with dip
- handful of nuts (approximately 10)
- handful of dried fruit
- muesli bar with >4g/serve fibre
- 1 piece of wholegrain toast with baked beans
- fruit salad (skin eaten)
In order to determine whether a food is a good source of fibre refer to the nutrition information panel of the product.
A GOOD SOUCRE OF FIBRE– are foods that contain at least 4g/serve
AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF FIBRE are foods that contain at least 7g/serve
There are many fibre supplements available in pharmacies in forms of powder, capsules and liquids. It is always better to get fibre from actual foods as they offer other nutritional value not just fibre.
Grain foods also contain:
- Carbohydrates (energy)
- Range of vitamins and minerals including, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous
Vegetable and fruits also contain:
- A large range of vitamins and minerals including antioxidants
Supplements are often used better to treat constipation rather than to meet fibre requirements in young adults. The elder population may benefit more from these supplements as eating a lot of high fibre foods be difficult for them to digest
Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA), Fibre, Retrieved http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fibre/
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). (2013). Standard 1.2.7 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims. Retrieved from http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00054
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – Australian Government. (2013). Eat for health – Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary. Retrieved from https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55a_australian_dietary_guidelines_summary_131014.pdf
NHMRC. (2006). Nutrient Reference Values, Dietary Fibre. Retrieved http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/dietary-fibre
Whitney, E., Rolfes, S.R., Crowe, T., Cameron-Smith, D., & Walsh, A. (2011). Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition. South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.