A report released today is shining a spotlight on the powerful, disease-fighting properties of fibre following research indicating that many Australians believe they are not consuming enough of this important nutrient and have limited understanding of its benefits beyond keeping them ‘regular’.
Developed by Accredited Practising Dietitian Shane Landon on behalf of Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing* the Focus on Fibre report reveals optimal fibre intake has been shown to reduce the risk of, and in many cases protect against, a range of common lifestyle related diseases.
Landon said the prevalence of chronic disease is rapidly increasing in Australia and noted that a high fibre intake has a key role to play in helping combat this rise.
“Obesity, heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke and cancer account for almost two thirds of $100 billion expended each year on health. Where conditions are preventable, we clearly each need to take responsibility for our health to reduce this cost burden and we need to start by looking at nutrition,” Mr Landon said.
”A fibre-rich diet can help improve immunity, fight inflammation, combat obesity, prevent diabetes, lower heart disease, guard against colorectal cancer and boost digestive health so ensuring you consume enough fibre is critical to your overall health and wellbeing,” he said.
Amazingly, fibre may also help reduce the risk of asthma with new research from Europe indicating fibre could play a protective role against the respiratory condition in animals.
Landon said he believes Australians need to consume more fibre-rich plant based foods and put more focus on fibre, a nutrient which is often overlooked.
”A recent Newspoll survey** commissioned by Sanitarium shows one fifth of the population don’t think they are getting enough fibre,” he said.
While almost all Australians correctly associate fibre with keeping you ‘regular’, the survey showed only just over half linked it with the role it plays in helping to prevent cancer and diabetes. Around a third of people were also unaware of its connection to cardiovascular disease prevention.
Sydney-based nutritionist, chef and author, Zoe Bingley-Pullin, said Australian men and women should aim to consume at least 30 and 25 grams of fibre per day respectively, and noted that improving your fibre intake can be as simple as making a few simple food-swaps or additions to your regular meals, and taking notice at the supermarket.
Instead of white bread, rice and pasta, go for grain based or wholemeal varieties of bread, and brown or wholemeal varieties of rice and pasta. Try sprinkling fresh or dried fruits, chia seeds which have an even mix of soluble and insoluble fibre, psyllium, wheat germ, nuts or seeds on cereal. Also, eat unpeeled fruits and vegetables wherever possible as the skins are a great source of fibre and include more legumes like lentils and beans in your meals.
“When looking at products, consumers should always check the nutrition panel and choose options which provide at least two grams of dietary fibre per serve,” she said.
To download the full report, click here.
*This report was made possible by an unencumbered research grant from Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing.
**The Newspoll research was conducted nationally among 1200 respondents aged 18 years and over, in compliance with ISO 20252 – Market, Social and Opinion Research. Interviewing was conducted via telephone over the period of 31 January to 2 February 2014.