Unlike trendy protein and carbs, fibre isn't such a hot topic at the table. But the reality is fibre intake is just as important, with the nutrient boasting a huge range of amazing benefits.
If you're not a fan of prunes (sorry grandma), don't worry -- there are many other ways to get your daily intake of fibre. And it's easy.
Let's look at what fibre is in the first place and what role it plays in the body.
What is fibre and why do we need it?
"Fibre is the part of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes, which doesn't get digested," accredited practising dietitian Chloe McLeod told HuffPost Australia. "It's a type of carbohydrate which helps to keep our digestive system healthy."
There are a few different types of fibre and it's important we get a variety of all of them.
"There is soluble fibre which helps to slow down how fast food is emptied from our stomach. This helps us to feel more full, to reduce cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels," McLeod said.
"Sources of soluble fibre include fruit, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes."
Then there's insoluble fibre which absorbs water and helps to soften the contents of our bowels.
"This helps with regular bowel movements occurring, helps us again feel full and keeps our bowels healthy in general. Insoluble fibre is found in foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains and the skins of fruits and vegetables," McLeod said.
"The last type of fibre is resistant starch. This isn't digested -- instead it proceeds along to the large intestine. This feeds the healthy bacteria that are found in our large intestine, so it really helps with improving our gut health," McLeod said.
"Resistant starch is found in bananas, cooked and cooled potato, cooked and cooled pasta or rice, nuts, seeds and other grains."
The benefits of consuming enough fibre:
- Makes it easier to pass healthy, regular bowel motions
- Helps digestive and overall health
- Helps keep us more satisfied after meals
- Helps with weight management
"Aside from helping with our digestive health, fibre helps improve both cholesterol and blood sugar levels (which can help with preventing things like heart disease and diabetes)," McLeod said. "Eating enough fibre is also really important for prevention of bowel cancer."
On the flip side, if we don't consume enough fibre often we begin to notice changes in our bowel motions.
"You might feel sluggish or have trouble concentrating, find it difficult to go to the bathroom, feel bloated, and you might notice a change in what your bowel movement look like -- most likely stool will be much harder and difficult to pass."
How much fibre do we need per day?
"The average adult needs about 30 grams of fibre a day," McLeod said.
"Some people with certain bowel or health conditions may require a bit less, but this isn't often. If we can get around 30 grams a day we're doing pretty well.
"Some people might find they feel a bit bloated or uncomfortable if they're suddenly increasing their fibre intake, but if you slowly work up to having more fibre there shouldn't be any problems."
If you're wondering how to tell if you're meeting the recommended daily intake of fibre, you can read the nutrition information panel, calculate the fibre content in food using an app, or just stick to a healthy, balanced diet.
"You can calculate fibre in foods using apps like Easy Diet Diary or Calorie King. Essentially, though, if you're eating your five serves of vegetables, two serves of fruit and whole grains spread across the day, then you are going to easily get enough fibre -- and even easily exceed the 30 grams," McLeod said.
How much fibre is in 20 common foods
- 1 large banana -- 3.6g fibre
- 1 medium apple -- 3.3g fibre
- 1 large orange -- 5.1g fibre
- 1 head of broccoli -- 6.5g fibre
- 1 medium avocado -- 4.5g fibre
- 1 medium carrot -- 5.5g fibre
- 2 cups chopped raw kale -- 2.7g
- 1 medium zucchini -- 2.8g fibre
- 1 medium red capsicum -- 2.5g fibre
- 1 medium baked potato -- 4.1g fibre
- 1 medium baked sweet potato -- 4.2g fibre
- 1 cup chickpeas -- 9.4g fibre
- 1 cup red kidney beans -- 13g fibre
- ½ cup uncooked rolled oats -- 5.7g fibre
- ½ cup uncooked brown rice -- 3.2g fibre
- ½ cup uncooked white rice -- 0.7g gibre
- 3 Weetbix biscuits -- 5.4g fibre
- 1 cup cooked wholemeal pasta -- 8.3g fibre
- 1 cup cooked white pasta -- 3.2g fibre
- ½ cup uncooked barley -- 11.7g fibre