How much fibre do you eat every day? Most people are not eating enough.
Average fibre consumption is around 15g per day, but the ideal diet contains over 100g per day and anything below 32g is considered deficient.
So why is fibre important? Fibre is a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the helpful bacteria in your gut. These bacteria ensure that you are digesting your food properly and extracting the nutrients efficiently. They can also reduce inflammation and cancer risk, and positively regulate your mood.
Fibre is also important to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol. Excess cholesterol passes from the blood into the digestive tract where it can bind to soluble fibre. It is then removed in your stool. In the absence of fibre in the digestive tract, the cholesterol passes back into the blood stream, where it can contribute to weight gain and attach to the inside of the arteries, increasing cardiac risk in the long term.
The best sources of dietary fibre are whole plant foods, in particular, oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, beans, avocado, coconut, artichoke, figs, almonds, walnuts, asparagus, okra, squash, peas, pears, berries and mangoes.
You should aim to eat over 35-40g of fibre each day.
Changing dietary intake to comprise the eating of smaller meals at more frequent intervals is thought to be more beneficial for weight loss than eating larger meals less frequently. This is likely due to improved control of glucose levels, better appetite control, and increased calorie use by the body during digestion. Also eating protein at regular intervals during the day increases muscle mass after exercise training, as more protein is available for repair, regeneration and growth of muscle tissue. The number of calories you burn throughout the day while at rest is largely dependent on muscle mass and a fat burning diet can be enhanced though gains in muscle. Maintaining or increasing muscle mass is a key factor in health as we age and also with survival and recovery from many disease conditions. The best results were observed when daily calorie intake was split over 5 or more meals a day. Increased fat loss as well as gains in muscle mass were noted. A high protein diet in conjunction with higher feeding frequency, has also shown beneficial effects on body composition, greater appetite control has also been observed with higher feeding frequency, with many people consuming less calories when adopting this method.
Eat little and often (5+ small meals per day).
Eat slowly and focus on chewing food thoroughly.
Be careful not to exceed daily calorie intake (using a small side plate for meals can help you judge portion sizes). Also do not snack between meals.
Keep to a balanced diet with low glycaemic index, high protein and vegetable content.
Thick soups or healthy green smoothies fill you up more quickly with smaller portions.
Exercise (you will see better gains in muscle mass from eating protein regularly throughout the day).
In the 1920’s food merchants were concerned about the amount of money lost to spoilage. They found that if they put certain chemicals like nitrates into food, it was less likely to spoil. Nitrates are also used as fertilisers by farmers. The problem is that these chemicals preserve the cells in your body as well as the cells in food. The cells stop working. Cells that stop working are called disease.
Next, food manufacturers found that if they cook fats at about 350 degrees fahrenheit for about five hours, the fats turned into something similar to plastic. Foods processed this way are called ‘partially hydrogenated fats’ or ‘trans fats’ or ‘plastic fats’. If you look in your larder, you will probably find processed food with these fats in them.
When you eat these plastic fats, your cell membranes become more plastic. Think of a cell with a plastic membrane. It is like wrapping the cell in sellotape. The cell sends out a signal that it is hungry. In response, the body sends glucose and insulin to the cell. However, they can’t get through the membrane. The cell continues to signal that it is hungry, and the body continues to send it more food. Soon the cell is surrounded by glucose and insulin but the cell is still hungry. This is known as insulin resistance and type II diabetes. The cell membrane becomes so saturated that it starts to offload excess glucose into fat cells. Thus people who continue to eat plastic fats get fatter and fatter.
Guess what happens to a brain made of plastic? It doesn’t work well and becomes prone to depression, chronic fatigue, attention deficiency and brain fog.
Guess what happens to a liver that is made of plastic. It can’t clean out the toxins in your system, causing things like fibromyalgia. Without a functional liver, your immune system fails and you get all sorts of chronic infections.
Writing a food diary can help you see where you are with your diet and might be a useful tool to highlight any imbalances that need to be addressed. Be honest with yourself and write in your diary everything that you put in your mouth, including the amounts of still water, tea, coffee, wine and beer that you drink. Include also the time of day, as this has a huge bearing on the efficiency of your digestion and absorption. What are you snacking on? How much fresh fruit and vegetables do you eat? How much processed foods, including sandwiches, do you eat?
Please remember that good nutrition combined with sufficient exercise is a powerful means to maintain and improve all aspects of your health and wellbeing.
Did you know that children who eat salty foods tend to seek out sugary drinks, which leads to obesity? The quality of food that children eat today will have a striking impact on their health throughout adolescence and adulthood. Consuming nutritious foods helps children and teenagers grow, develop, do well academically and feel good about themselves. Good nutrition also helps to prevent eating disorders, obesity, dental cavities and iron-deficiency anaemia. Also, studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better in school. According to reports from the American Dietetic Association, students who eat breakfast have better problem-solving abilities, memory, verbal fluency and creativity. They are also less likely to be absent. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children who do not eat breakfast, or eat an insufficient breakfast, are more likely to have behavioural, emotional and academic problems at school.
Nutrient Robbers are processed foods that not only fail to provide any valuable nutrients or energy to the body, but also rob it of its nutritional reserves as it strives to break them down. Many degenerative diseases have been linked to the consumption of processed foods. These include:
To stay healthy, your body needs the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein, the three main components of nutrition. You also need vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are contained in many different foods. Eating a variety of different foods is essential because no single food or food group contains all the nutrients that your body requires to function properly. Moderation means that we need to eat neither too much nor too little of any food or nutrient. Too much food can result in excess weight-gain and an excess of certain nutrients, whilst eating too little can lead to nutrient deficiencies and low body mass.So very often it is as important to look at what we are not eating as to look at what we are eating!
Corrett & Edgson (2012) describe the ABC to conscious eating: Allocate time to eat, Be engaged, and Chew your foods. Eating in a relaxed environment and allowing time for digestion are essential for your body.
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can begin in early childhood, but the process can be halted or even reversed if you make healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle.
The gradual bone thinning that results in osteoporosis may be slowed down if you consume enough calcium and magnesium, maintain adequate vitamin D levels and participate in weight-bearing exercise. You might be genetically predisposed to diabetes, but if you keep your weight within a healthy range through diet and exercise, the disease may never strike you.