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Fibre in the Diet, the More, the Better – Not Necessarily!

One of the biggest developments in health these days is ‘personalised nutrition’. This concept embraces the fact that each of us is unique and will react differently to a variety of nutrients in our diets. It’s become clear that ‘one-size-fits-all’ does not work with nutrition advice. Of course, at The 1:1 Diet, we’ve been following this principle for decades (over 35 years to be more precise!) and each dieter gets their own unique diet Plan.

But, the messages we get about fibre seem to go against this principle. Sometimes this is justified by the fact that several large studies show that higher fibre intake is associated with lower risk of several diseases, like colon cancer. Others believe it improves digestion, reduces constipation and may reduce hunger. However, if we look at all the evidence on fibre, these studies don’t give the whole story and there are several circumstances in which higher fibre intake is not better, and in some circumstances, worse.

What is fibre?

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that isn’t digested like most other nutrients. Instead, it travels through your small intestine, without being absorbed, down into your colon, where it either becomes food for the bacteria that lives there or is excreted. It is thought that fibre helps promote ‘good’ bacteria, which produce various healthy nutrients and that for these and other reasons, it lowers disease risk.

The research…

For most people on a typical diet, it seems like having more fibre would be beneficial, but it’s not as simple as that. For instance, some studies suggest that adding fibre to the diet can improve digestion, however, other studies show exactly the opposite.

One study looked at people with constipation and while those who maintained their high-fibre diet got no relief from their symptoms, those who reduced or completely omitted fibre, dramatically improved their symptoms. Furthermore, less or zero fibre was also shown to reduce bloating.

10-15% of Westerners now have Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and many more are undiagnosed. That is a huge proportion of the population! Well, it seems that fibre does not agree with most of them either. Interestingly, the most successful treatment for IBS is a low-FODMAP diet (FODMAP is an acronym for many types of fibres and carbs). This diet eliminates many of the most common sources of ‘healthy’ fibre in the diet.

But what about fibre in The 1:1 Diet?

Other situations in which extra fibre may not be beneficial is in the case of very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs), such as the Total Diet Replacement Step with The 1:1 Diet. In one study, adding a large amount of fibre to VLCD did not improve weight loss. Of course, all of our meal replacement and total diet replacement products have been formulated to provide all of the essential nutrients your body needs, including fibre and adding extra fibre may be helpful to some people, but not for others Again, everybody responds differently.

Fibre is probably a good thing in the diet for those who have good digestion and eat typical diets. Those who have digestive issues, or on low-calorie or low-carb diets, should experiment with adding and omitting various sources of fibre to find what works best for them.

How much fibre should you have in your diet?

According to the British Dietetic Association and other organisations, fibre intake should be 30 grams per day or more but, as discussed, blanket recommendations like these are increasingly being challenged by a growing number of experts, and a personalised approach is better for most people.

 Where do you get fibre in your diet?

Adding fibre to your diet is easy, high-fibre foods include:

  • wholegrain wheat like wholewheat pasta and brown rice

  • oats and barley

  • fruits like apples and pears with the peel

  • vegetables like spinach, avocado and cauliflower

  • nuts, seeds and legumes.

Why not try out some of these recipes from our blog that contain some high fibre foods?

Check out our recipe page for more delicious recipes for you to try!

For more information regarding the Steps and to start your weight-loss transformation, chat to a friendly Consultant today!