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Fibre, what kind and how much?

We have at some time been told how important fibre is as part of a healthy diet. But how much fibre is necessary to keep a healthy diet? and is some fibre better than other, or do they all do the same job?

Food sources of dietary fibre have traditionally been thought about by many of us as the grains in your cereal for breakfast, or the vegetables we eat. However there is a lot more to know about Fibre and what different types of fibre do and in what part of the gut. 

Previously, foods were divided into those that provide soluble fibre and those that provide insoluble fibres. Plant foods in the main provide both types but to varying amounts. However researchers now know that fermentable fibre, which is available in most fruit and vegetables, has a pre-biotic form which is known to stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your gut. So the advantages of consuming fibre are many, and good health depends on the variety of types of fibre that is eaten and therefore what benefits result in what parts of the gut system.

Good amounts of bulking (insoluble) fibres are found in grains such as wheat, bran, barley, and rye; in vegetables such as corn, broccoli and carrots; in nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds. These bulking fibres help keep you regular with your poo, the timing of which will be particular to you and is part of “your normal”. 

For good quantities of viscous (soluble) fibres look to oatmeal, avocado, lentils, beans, broccoli, chickpeas, pears, raspberries, and almonds. This type of fibre helps slow the digestive process and keep your blood sugar at a steady level.

Healthy bacteria in your gut feed on fermentable fibre and scientists now talk about a pre-biotic form of fermentable fibre which contains certain types of sugars and starches (inulin and resistant starch) that  feed and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in your microbiome who metabolise this to yield short chain fatty acids which among other things builds your immunity.

Here’s a good long list of sources of pre-biotic fibre (based primarily on research compiled by Australia’s Monash University and dietitian Jo Anne Hattner, author of “Gut Insights.”)

  • Vegetables such as garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots cauliflower, savoy cabbage, kale, beets, potato starch, sweet potatoes, taro, yams (but watch the sugars in those starchy veggies by limiting your portion size), globe artichoke, asparagus, bamboo shoots, butternut squash, celery, green peas, mushrooms,  snow and sugar snap peas, spinach.
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas,  all berries, as they’re filled with polyphenols that act as pre-biotics, grapefruit, guava, kiwi fruit, pears, pomegranate, stone fruits, such as apricots, nectarines and peaches.
  • Grains and pseudo-grains such as  barley, buckwheat, corn, couscous, freekeh, oats, brown rice, rye, spelt, and whole wheat.
  • Nuts and seeds, raw: almonds, cashews, chestnuts, flaxseed, and hazelnuts.
  • Legumes: all dried beans, peas, lentils; fresh peas; hummus.

As you can see there is a wide variety of foods providing different fibre for you to eat and the beauty of eating the various types of fibre will show up in the structure of your poo enabling you to correct your diet if your poo shows changes. Download our flyer from “Review your Poo” and keep your bowels well and healthy.