This Is How Much Fibre You Should Eat to Prevent Disease

Hint: You're probably not eating enough.

Health food concept for a high fiber diet with fruit, vegetables, cereals, whole wheat pasta, grains, legumes and herbs. Foods high in anthocyanins, antioxidants, smart carbohydrates and vitamins.Photo: Marilyn Barbone/Shutterstock

Do you have enough fibre in your diet?

Fibre has a reputation for being a key part of a healthy diet. Health Canada recommends 25 grams of fibre per day for women and 38 grams of fibre per day for men—on average, Canadians are eating only half of that. Although it’s safe to say most people could include more fibre in their diet, a research review shows there’s an ideal amount for reaping health benefits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed 40 years worth of research to help develop new dietary guidelines for fibre. The study, published in the journal The Lancet, also looks at which types of carbs ward off weight gain and protect against chronic diseases. The researchers looked at 185 studies and 58 clinical trials conducted over 40 years. They found 25 to 29 grams of fibre is ideal for health benefits. (Try out these 30 painless ways to increase dietary fibre.)

The WHO research found that people eating the most fibre in their diet are 15 to 30 per cent less likely to die prematurely from any cause in comparison to those consuming less fibre. Similarly, eating fibre-rich foods coincides with a 16 to 24 per cent less chance of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. According to Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, a physician and health expert, the research supports and reinforces what has already been known about fibre for so long in regards to its health properties. 

So while you should probably be eating more fibre, the next challenge for the public is finding ways to so, Dr. Okeke-Igokwe says. Not everyone is aware of the best options. First, it’s important to know that there are two main types of fibre—soluble and insoluble—and both are essential for your health. Soluble fibre is in foods like oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and some fruits and vegetables and it helps slow digestion. Insoluble fibre is in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains and it helps food pass through your system more quickly. (Here are seven surefire ways to keep your bowels running smoothly.)

The more processing a food has, the less fibre it typically has, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For example, a medium apple with the peel has four and a half grams of fibre, but half a cup of apple sauce only has one and a half grams. It’s something to keep in mind to help reach your fibre goals. A person would have to eat five large apples, or two cups of peanuts, or three and a half cups of shredded coconut to hit the 25-gram mark. The Academy’s other suggestions for hitting your daily fibre intake include swapping refined grains or cereals for steel cut oats or swapping white rice for brown or whole grain options. You can also add to your diet as well as make substitutions. Some foods that are naturally high in fibre are pears with the skin on, fresh raspberries, avocado, almonds, black beans, and air-popped popcorn. Luckily, you can find fibre in other various food combinations, too.

Next, check out these 10 easy ways to improve gut health!

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest