Fibre: The Top 5 Tips

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of adding more fibre to your diet. But do you know how to do it? Follow these five fibre tips and you’ll be on your way to improved digestive health.

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Why is fibre important?

If you’re not getting enough fibre in your diet right now, you’re not alone. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, most Canadians eat about half the daily fibre they need … only about 15 grams, compared to the 21-38 grams that are recommended every day.
 
Why does this matter? Well, fibre can pass through the body undigested, making us feel full without adding calories. And that’s good, if you’re trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Adding more fibre to your diet will help encourage regular bowel movements … a good step to a healthy digestive system overall.  Fibre has also been shown to:
  • Help reduce your bad cholesterol levels
  • Help manage your blood pressure
  • Help control your blood glucose levels
 
So there are many reasons to make fibre your friend.

Tip 1: Read those food labels

A good first step to adding more fibre to your diet is to understand where you can find fibre in the foods you eat. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to do this, as more and more of the foods you buy in grocery stores come with labels that show you exactly how much fibre you’re getting in them.
 
Reading food labels can help you:
  • Identify foods that have a high percentage of your daily fibre intake. Foods with 5% Daily Value or less are considered to have little fibre; those with 15% Daily Value or more are considered to have a lot.
  • Identify foods that contain fibre-bearing ingredients, such as bran, whole grains, oatmeal or rye flour
  • Compare the fibre levels of different foods (but make sure you are comparing similar serving sizes)
 
You should also look for foods that have the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s “Health Check” symbol, which will identify them as:
  • A source of fibre (2 grams)
  • A high source of fibre (4 grams)
  • A very high source of fibre (6 grams or more)
 

Tip 2: Get the whole grain

 
One of the reasons we in North America don’t tend to get enough fibre is that so much of the food we eat contains processed and refined flour … flour which has had much of the fibre removed from it.
 
Eating foods containing whole grains is a good way to reverse that trend and increase your fibre intake. It’s recommended that you eat at least 6 servings of whole grains each day, including rolled oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat breads, and whole grain breakfast cereals.
 
How can you work whole grains into your diet?
  • When baking, replace at least half the white flour in your recipe with whole-wheat flour.
  • Use whole grain breads, rolls or pitas instead of white ones when making sandwiches or wraps.
  • Switch to a whole grain cereal – or add 15-30 mL (1-2 Tbsp) of bran or ground flaxseed to your existing cereal in the morning.

 
 

Tip 3: Eat your fruits & veggies

Your mom was right … eating all your fruits and veggies is a good way to stay healthy. And it’s a good way to help get more fibre in your diet.
 
You should eat at least 7 servings of vegetables and fruit each day … aim for 1-2 servings of them every time you eat a meal or a snack.
 
Remember:
  • Fruit makes a healthy snack or dessert. Pears, blackberries or raspberries are all excellent sources of fibre. Or try something more exotic – guava, persimmon and kumquat are full of fibre, too. Always choose fresh or frozen fruits when you can find them, instead of canned fruit, which may be preserved with added sugar.
  • Eat the peels of your fruit and veggies whenever you can. That will increase your fibre intake even more. Just make sure they’re well washed!
  • Eating whole fruits and veggies is better than drinking juice, as they have more of their fibre benefit.

 
 
 

Tip 4: Think like a squirrel...

Squirrels are known for eating nuts and seeds, and they’re onto a good thing, where fibre is concerned.
 
A handful of nuts (60 mL, or ¼ cup) makes a great snack. Make sure you get ones that are unsalted, so you aren’t adding salt to your diet as well as fibre!
 
Don’t like eating nuts or seeds on their own? Then treat them as a seasoning. Toasted nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds can be sprinkled on salads, cereals, pasta dishes or stir-fries to add their own unique flavour. Substitute them where you might otherwise be tempted to add sugar or salt.
 
Legumes are another good source of fibre to add to your daily diet. Barley, beans, peas or lentils make excellent soup or casserole ingredients, and roast chickpeas or steamed edemame (soybean pods) can be used for a snack. And you can use chickpea-based dips (like hummus) instead of sour cream dips at your next party.
 

Tip 5: Add fibre to every meal

Don’t think of fibre as something you need to consume all at once, say at breakfast. Fibre is something that you can consume a bit at a time, every time you sit down for a meal or a snack.
 
When you first introduce more fibre to your diet, it’s best to do it gradually. Having too much fibre all at once, when you’re not used to it, can cause bloating, gas or even diarrhea. But if you give your body time to adjust to the new diet, by increasing your daily fibre a bit at a time, you shouldn’t have these problems.
 
Working slowly, one step at a time, you can make fibre a part of your everyday routine:
Step 1: breakfast – replace your regular cereal with a whole grain cereal
Step 2: lunch – replace your white sandwich bread with whole wheat bread
Step 3: snack – have a pear instead of a chocolate bar
Step 4: dinner – have a baked potato with its skin, instead of mashed potatoes
Step 5: dessert – replace your pudding cup with a fruit cup.
 
 
Having trouble working fibre into your daily diet? There are dietary fibre supplements available that can be mixed into your favourite foods or beverages. Just ask the Pharmacist at Walmart if a supplement might be right for you.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is happy to help you find ways to increase your daily fibre... Just ask!

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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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