May 04, 2021 3 min read

Article written by Annie Skidmore- BSc Sport & Exercise Science Student 

 

Fibre intake is often low in individuals especially those who struggle to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables in a day. Fibre is an important nutrient in the diet and below are a few ways to help you meet your daily fibre intake.

WHAT IS FIBRE?

Firstly, what is fibre? Fibre as defined by WHO includes all carbohydrates that are not digested or absorbed in the small intestine. It is recommended to have a daily intake of 25-35g of fibre, but many adults barely reach 20g a day and therefore have a low intake [1]. Fibre intake in youths have also been reported as low with research finding 9 out of 10 children failing to reach the recommended fibre intake [2]. As a result, many people including athletes need to focus on increasing their fibre intake for heath benefits. Yet, when increasing fibre intake, it is important to ensure you have a high fluid intake otherwise gastric problems such as constipation may arise. Also, consuming high fibre foods before training may cause a lot of gastric issues in certain athletes, so this should be avoided before training and competition, but fibre eaten afterwards will help to restore food intake.

WHY IS FIBRE IMPORTANT?

Fibre is essential in the diet to aid normal functioning of the digestive system. Too much or too little fibre can cause gastric issues. Dietary fibre has shown to be important in the development and management of various diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and associated with mortality [1].

WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR FIBRE INTAKE:

  1. CONSUME MORE FRUIT & VEG:fruit and vegetables contain a high amount of fibre and increasing your daily intake will help you meet your fibre needs. This can be in the form of smoothies or blended veg in sauces if you struggle to eat it in its natural form.
  2. SWAP YOUR SNACKS FOR HIGH FIBRE ALTERNATIVES:instead of grabbing your usual cereal bar why not choose a fibre cereal bar instead this way you are getting those extra nutritional benefits that you need.
  3. USE HIDDEN VEGGIES:if you struggle to eat fruit or high fibre products then blended veg for pasta sauces for example or fibre bars are a great way to incorporate fibre into your everyday diet.
  4. CONSUME FOODS HIGH IN FIBRE:alternatively consuming foods such as dried or fresh fruit, cereal bars, wholegrain cereal and breads, oats, nuts, seeds, potatoes, and vegetables [3] which are all high in fibre will help to ensure you are not malnourished in this nutrient.

Fibre intake is essential in the diet to maintain adequate digestive functioning, but it has to be adequately timed around performance to prevent stomach pains or gastric issues in youth athletes. High fibre foods should be favoured after training and on rest days to prevent having a negative impact upon sports performance.

REFERENCES:

[1] Gill SK, Rossi M, Bajka B, Whelan K. Dietary fibre in gastrointestinal health and disease. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2020 Nov 18:1-6.

[2] Moshfegh A, Goldman J, Cleveland L. What we eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002: usual nutrient intakes from food compared to dietary reference intakes. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2005 Sep 15;9.

[3] www.nutrition.org.uk

Emmy Campbell
Emmy Campbell

YSN Lead Nutritionist. Emmy holds a BSc. in Human Nutrition, MSc. in Sports Nutrition and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr). Emmy is also on the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and The Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr).


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