By Rebecca Ponsford, Dietitian

When talking about nutrition, we often focus on nutrients like protein, carbs, omega-3 and probiotics. However, one nutrient that we can all benefit from is dietary fibre. While fibre has long been associated with keeping you regular, there is far more new and evolving research into the health benefits of consuming fibre.

We now know that fibre helps to nourish the gut and protect against gastrointestinal diseases including colon cancer. Fibre can also lower cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels, protecting against chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

To reap the benefits of fibre, it is recommended for adult women to consume 25g/day and 30g/day for men. Luckily fibre can be found in many different food groups, so you don’t necessarily have to take a fibre supplement to get enough in your diet.

5 ways to increase your fibre intake

1. Load up on whole fruit & vegetables

We all know it’s important to eat fruit and vegetables, and one of the reasons is because they all contain fibre. A tip to get more fibre from your daily intake is to consume the (edible) skin and seeds. Think apples, pears, potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, carrots and even kiwifruit. If the texture adds too much “roughage” for your liking, try adding fruit and vegetables to smoothies to sneak in more fibre without noticing.


2. Go for whole grains

When selecting bread, pasta, rice and noodles look for those made from wholegrains rather than the white/refined options. Perhaps try out a different high fibre wholegrain to use as a base to meals each week such as quinoa, buckwheat, black rice or barley.

3. Sprinkle on nuts & seeds

Not only are they a great way to up your fibre intake, nuts and seeds are loaded with nutrients like iron, zinc, omega-3 fats and protein. My top tip is to get a mix of your favourite raw nuts and seeds and toast them in the oven at 150C for 10 minutes. Sprinkle on salads, stir fries, eggs, yoghurt and cereal for a delicious crunch.

4. Use legumes, beans & lentils

The great thing about legumes is that they are cheap, versatile and easy to use. If buying canned varieties, strain and rinse the beans/lentils before adding to meals (this makes them easier to digest). Next time you’re cooking eggs, pan fry some beans to make your own homemade baked beans. Try adding ½ cup lentils to a pasta sauce. Supermarkets now also stock pasta varieties made from lentils and beans which are a great way to boost fibre and protein.

5. Drink more water

While not a fibre source, water and fibre often work hand-in hand so it’s important to drink more water when increasing the fibre in your diet. Some types of fibre are more soluble meaning they dissolve in water and have gel-forming properties, other types of fibre add more bulk to the stools. It’s important to drink sufficient water to help gain the benefits of fibre and keep digestion comfortable.

Lastly, if you have a sensitive stomach or digestive issues, start slow with adding in fibre and gradually increase your intake as tolerated. An example might be to have a meal with beans once or twice a week or to add a teaspoon of nuts and seeds to a main meal each day.

If you’ve been struggling with ongoing digestive issues or are looking for ways to lower cholesterol or control blood sugar levels, an individual dietetics appointment can help! We work with you to determine an individualised nutrition & dietary plan to meet your requirements and goals.

Learn more about the services our dietitian provides here.