Fibre is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. It can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, and can also improve digestive health. However, many people don't get enough fibre. On average, most people in the UK get less than 18g of fibre a day. You should aim for around 20-30g a day (those who suffer from bowel conditions such as IBS should consult their doctor or dietitian for fibre advice).
Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants. Foods such as meat, fish and dairy products don't contain any fibre. There are two different types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Each type of fibre helps your body in different ways, so a normal healthy diet should include both types. Eating wholegrain cereals and plenty of fruit and vegetables helps to ensure both adults and children are eating enough fibre.
Soluble fibre dissolves in the water in your digestive system. It may help to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood. If you have constipation, gradually increasing sources of soluble fibre, such as fruit and vegetables and oats can help soften your stools and make them easier to pass.
Foods that contain soluble fibre include:
Insoluble fibre doesn't dissolve in water. It passes through your gut without being broken down and helps other foods move through your digestive system more easily. Insoluble fibre keeps your bowels healthy and helps prevent digestive problems. If you have diarrhea, you should limit the amount of insoluble fibre in your diet.
Good sources of insoluble fibre include: