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Eat Up Your Greens


I wonder if you, like me, remember vividly being told by your parents to eat up your greens, or vegetables, or have some fruit after dinner. Like some kind of ancient wisdom, passed down through the generations just to make life less fun. Or so it seemed at the time. Let’s examine what was behind all of that.

Eat Up Your Fibre

The point of it all was to have us eating more fibre, and sadly it doesn’t seem to have worked. Studies suggest that in this country adults have a daily fibre consumption average of 10-15g while the recommended daily minimum is 25g. And that’s the minimum, it’s suggested we should have at least 30g per day for good health. So despite the early years training, and the widespread promotion of “five a day”, we are still consuming about half of the fibre we should.

But my breakfast cereal has fibre in it!

Yes some breakfast cereals have fibre, and some more than others, but probably less than you think. The fibre content in Corn Flakes for example, based on the serving size of 50g, is 1.5 g. Ok so you have two bowls, but that’s still only 3g. We’re aiming for 30g in the day, so without being aware and intentional about eating good fibre source foods, we will still be stuck on the average 10-15g mark.

I eat a lot of carrots, is that enough?

As well as trying to increase the intake, we should also be making sure we have both soluble and insoluble fibres. That means some variety in the fibrous foods we eat. The insoluble fibre is probably the one we think about as fibre, it helps us have a healthy digestive system and to eliminate properly. We find this in wholegrains, vegetables, potato skins, nuts and seeds. Then there’s the soluble fibre, it works differently and dissolves in water forming a gel in the gut. Among the many benefits here are keeping stools soft and preventing constipation (sorry!). You might find soluble fibre in fruit, beans, pulses, and vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. It also helps to feed the healthy bacteria in the gut which is a major area of marketing campaigns we’re all familiar with.

So what benefit do I get if I “Eat Up My Greens”

The benefits from regular high fibre consumption are the subject of ongoing studies, and the positive links keep being discovered, but here’s just a few of them:

  • By creating bulk, weight and softness it makes elimination easier normalising bowel movements and decreasing the chance of constipation.
  • Through the fermentation process in the soluble fibre you help maintain bowel and colon health.
  • It may help you lower cholesterol levels and have other heart health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
  • It can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.
  • Being usually more filling and have fewer calories, high fibre foods can help with maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Studies suggest through lowering the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancers, it will help you live longer.

So back to that passed down wisdom, and how it felt like it was intended to make life less fun. What we know now is that it’s the opposite of that, through better health and weight management we can have much much more fun.

If you’d like to know how we can help you build in the right amount and combination of fibre in your daily diet just get in touch.

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