We’re supporting Men’s Health Week here in Australia by joining forces with one of our favourite healthy blokes, Joel Feren aka @the_nutritionguy! As part of our partnership, we asked Joel to share with us his thoughts on a critical (and often ignored) element in most men’s diet: fibre.
Gut health is currently one of the hottest topics in nutrition, and with good reason too. The role of the gut microbiome (also known as the gut microbiota) is a fast emerging and young field that is an area of intensive research. Although there are many features of the microbiome that are not yet well understood, we do know that things can go awry when our guts are out of kilter. For example, our immune systems can become compromised, bowel habits can change and you may fart… a lot.
But there is some good news! We can eat a wide and varied diet to restore the balance.
Here is why fibre is your best mate as well as my top tip to help you hit your fibre targets, encourage good bowel and digestive health and improve your overall health.
Food first approach
Foods that are rich in fibre also contain a raft of vitamins, minerals and plant-based phytonutrients. No supplement can replicate this complex matrix of nutrients. Aiming to include whole foods in their most natural state will tick two significant boxes that enable you to meet your fibre requirements and benefit from a range of nutrients that promote good health. One only needs to look at the impressive nutrient profile of the chia seed to appreciate that whole foods can provide a number of key vitamins, vitamins, essential fats as well as fibre.
Fibre helps fight nasties
Fibre has been shown to reduce our risk of chronic diseases as well as certain types of cancers. In fact, there’s a whole lot of research that shows that people with a higher intake of cereal fibres have a reduced risk of premature death from a range of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and even diabetes. So, it’s worrying that despite this known benefit, we typically fall well short of our suggested dietary intake.
Women win this battle
The evidence suggests that men trail women in the fibre stakes. Only a small percentage of blokes meet their fibre requirements. And the research suggests that young men in particular are letting the team down.
Fibre not only helps to manage our gut, but also our guts
Fibre helps to increase our feelings of fullness; including a serve of whole grains along with a big side of veggies with meals is likely going to help you become fuller quicker. It can reduce transit time in our digestive system and help to add bulk to our meals. This means fibre can play a pivotal role in helping to manage our waistlines, which are, based on current trends, continuing to expand.
Make these foods heroes in your diet
Fibre is found in a variety of plant-based foods including whole grains, fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. Aim for at least four serves of whole grains each day along with two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables to allow you to well and truly meet your fibre requirements. One serve of nuts as well as seeds will also impressively bump up your total nutrition. Chia seeds can be added to your brekkie cereal, mid-morning yoghurt or lunchtime salad. And you can easily whip up a nutritious and delicious chia pudding for dessert. Your insides and tastebuds will thank you for it!
Make fibre your friend. It’s the kind of mate who will always have your back and truly love your guts.