Fibre

Dietitians and other healthcare professionals can often be heard talking about how we should eat more fibre. You may understand that it is “good for you” to have fibre in your diet. But have you ever thought about why?

This post explains the different types of fibre, looks at some of its benefits and suggests how you can include more of it in your diet.

Types of fibre

Fibre-rich foodsAn easy way to remember foods that contain fibre is that they all come from plants. Meat, fish and dairy foods do not contain fibre.
Fibre can be split into two different types, soluble and insoluble. Both have different health benefits, so we should try to include both types in our diets.

  • Soluble fibre
    As the name suggests, soluble fibre dissolves in water. In the gut, this helps soften your stools. Consequently, if you suffer from constipation, gradually increasing your intake of soluble fibre can help make it easier to go. Soluble fibre can also help lower cholesterol levels.
    Foods such as oats, pulses, lentils, golden linseeds, potatoes and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fibre.
  • Insoluble fibre
    Insoluble fibre cannot be digested, instead it is used as a ‘food’ source for good bacteria we have in the gut, helping keep our gut healthy. Insoluble fibre also acts as a sponge, helping keep us fuller for longer and move food through our digestive system.
    Good sources of insoluble fibre include; bran, wholegrain and wholemeal foods, skins of fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds.

To help differentiate between the two different types, think about making porridge (or oatmeal) on the stove, the oats ‘dissolve’ into the liquid. When cooking brown rice, the rice does not dissolve, but rather absorbs the water and goes soft. This is because the oats are high in soluble fibre, whilst brown rice is high in insoluble fibre.

Benefits

As fibre can help you feel full for longer, it can be a useful tool when trying to manage your weight. It can also help control your blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Having a diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

How much?

According to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) adults should be aiming for around 25g of fibre per day. Most people aren’t eating enough. On average, people manage to eat around 14g of fibre per day.

Increase your fibre intake

If you want to increase your intake of fibre, it is important that you do so gradually. Increasing your intake too rapidly can result in stomach cramps and leave you feeling bloated. You should also make sure you drink plenty of water, aim for 6-8 glasses per day.

You can increase the amount of fibre in your diet by ensuring your diet contains plenty of fruit and vegetables, opting for wholegrains (brown rice/bread/pasta over white), leaving the skin on potatoes and adding beans or lentils to your soups and salads. Ensuring a vegetarian meal once per week is a great way of upping your fibre intake #meatfreemonday!

What does 25g a day look like?

fibre in a dayIBS

People who have digestive problems or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may need to adjust the type and amount of fibre they have in their diets depending on their symptoms. This is something that needs to be assessed on an individual basis. You should see your doctor or dietitian for more advice regarding this.

More information

Fibre-rich foods
General information on fibre from patient.co.uk
NHS information on constipation
NHS information on diarrhoea
NHS information on IBS

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Hydration, hydration, hydration!

As featured in my April newsletter (sign up here), this is a post all about the importance of keeping hydrated.

Sooo many clients I see tell me “oh, I know I need to drink more” or “I don’t drink enough”. Consequently, I often focus one of their goals around finding a way to get more water into their day.

Of course, drinking enough water is important all year round, but as the weather gets warmer, the amount of water your body loses increases, which means that more needs to be replaced.

waterWhy do we need water?

It is very easy to take the humble tap, hose or water cooler for granted. We typically use water for so much of our daily routine; watering the garden, washing clothes, showering, cooking and drinking. Water plays an important role in many aspects of life, and our body is no exception; we could not live without it.

Most of our body is made up of water; our cells, muscles and blood all contain it. Water plays a part in controlling our body temperature, metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure as well as removing waste products and ensuring the concentration of minerals in the blood stays balanced. When this balance is disrupted, processes in the body cannot function properly.

As well as the critical role water has in our general health, drinking plenty can also help with weight management. This is because occasionally our brain mistakes the signals of thirst for hunger. So next time you feel peckish, think about when you last had a glass of water before reaching for the nibbles!

What happens when we don’t drink enough?

If you lose more fluid that you drink, you will eventually become dehydrated. You lose fluid through breathing, sweating and urinating. However, the amount of fluid that you lose can vary a lot depending on how active you are, your environment and your current state of health.

Signs that you are not drinking enough may include: dark coloured urine, not needing to urinate as often as usual, dry mouth, thirst,  tiredness and lack of ability to concentrate.

How much to drink

This varies depending on how much water you are losing. The hotter it is and more active you are, the more you will need to  drink.

A loose guide is around 1.2-1.5 litres (or 6-8 glasses). However, the best way to tell if you are drinking enough is by the colour of your urine. It should be a light, straw colour.

NB: Try not to wait until you are thirsty to drink as by this point you are already dehydrated!

What to drink

Water is always best to rehydrate you. Milk, diluted squash, fruit juice and soft drinks also count, but watch out for the calories in juices and sugary sodas and the caffeine in teas and coffees (which can have a diuretic effect). Green or herbal teas are a good choice if you prefer something warm.

How to drink more

Sometimes, people are well aware that they should be drinking more, but it is a habit that is difficult to get in to. People find different ways that work for them but here are some suggestions:

  • Drink from a big bottle
    This is a handy way of measuring exactly how much water you are getting through on a daily basis. If you are sat at a desk and have the bottle handy, you are much more likely to take sips throughout the day. It is surprising how far away the water cooler is when you are in the middle of writing that report…!
  • Always carry water with you
    If you are often out and about it is very easy to go hours without drinking. So, it is always a good idea to take a bottle of water with you, especially when on holiday somewhere warm.
  • Have large glasses with meals
    If you really struggle to get into the habit of drinking water through the day, having a large glass of water with every meal is a good start.
  • Develop a schedule
    Start the day with a large glass of water, drink every time your kids do, set a reminder on your phone to leave your desk every hour for a drink…Find something to set a schedule to and stick to it. It will soon become a habit.
  • Mix it up!
    If you get bored with the taste of normal water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime or even mint leaves! Green teas taste great too!

Like my Facebook page for more handy hints and to keep up to date with my nutrition goings on! 

How to prevent weight gain on holiday

When on holiday, it’s so easy to abandon all principles of healthy eating and forget everything we know about moderation. Holidays are definitely a well-deserved time to relax but being too relaxed about what we eat can set us back weeks on weight management plans. Whilst holidays are not a good time to try and lose weight, preventing weight gain is a positive goal that is achievable!

I’ve put together my 5 top tips, so you can relax and feel spoiled but without relaxing the rules (too much) on your healthy diet.

1. Have a healthy breakfast

bfastBreakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It sets you up energy wise, kick-starts your metabolism and prevents you getting peckish through the morning.

Healthy options include; fruit, yoghurt, oats, muesli or granola. Or, if you’d like something warm; scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and toast, or an omelette. Try and have a source of protein (milk, eggs, yoghurt) mixed with a source of carbohydrate (bread, oats, muesli) as this combination will help keep you fuller for longer and prevent those mid-morning munchies. Make it even better by adding in some fresh or dried fruit for one of your 5-a-day!

2. Get active

tennisMost holiday destinations provide guests with ample opportunities to burn some calories. Whether it be a swim, a gym session, tennis, a walk, whatever your preference. Look into what the place you’re staying offers before you go, and make it your goal to do 30 minutes of something active every day.

Why not try something you don’t usually do! You’ll feel much better for it.

3. Make sure you drink enough

waterNormally, an average adult should be drinking 35mls of fluid per kg of body weight. So, for a 70kg individual, that’s (35 x 70) 2450mls, or nearly 2.5 litres per day. Add in the heat and sight-seeing, and you’re likely to need even more than that. The easiest way of telling if you’re hydrated enough is by checking the colour of your urine, anything darker than a pale straw colour and you need to drink more.

I would always suggest carrying round a bottle of water. It’ll help keep you cool and hydrated. In addition, the brain can confuse hunger and thirst signals. So, when you think you’re hungry, you may just be thirsty. Have a drink, and if you still feel hungry 30 minutes later, then it’s probably time to have something to eat.

4. Take some snacks

nutsDon’t go hungry and then pick something unhealthy to snack on just because it’s more convenient! If you know you’re going to get hungry, be prepared and take some healthy snacks with you. Fruit and nuts are great things to nibble on to see you through to the next meal.

Or, if you’re off for the day, see if you can take something for lunch from the breakfast buffet; a wholemeal chicken salad sandwich and some fruit is going to be so much better for you (and your waistline) than grabbing a quick kebab or portion of chips!

5. Portion control

Don’t go piling the plate up just because it’s there. Remember all the hard work you put in at home and try to eat similar portion sizes. Stick to a similar dietary pattern to what you have at home. If you have 5-a-day at home, aim for 5-a-day on holiday too.

If you know you’re going to be eating out regularly, do some research on what dishes are popular for your destination and get calorie wise. It’s a great excuse to try some of the local cuisine! Also, don’t be afraid to ask waiting staff for more information about a dish. Most restaurants will oblige if you ask for the fish to be grilled rather than fried, or for new potatoes rather than chips.

Need something to cool you down? Some ice lollies are less than 100 calories (check the packet). Really want that ice cream? Fine…have it, but have one scoop and do an extra couple of lengths in the pool tomorrow.

Don’t deprive yourself completely. Holidays are an important time to forget the stresses of work and enjoy company of your loved ones so it’s important to have a little bit of what we enjoy. Good news is there’s some easy ways that this is possible without piling on the pounds; MODERATION AND COMPENSATION!

 

I hope you find my tips helpful. Please comment with any added suggestions you may have!