High Fibre Foods List and Recommended Intake
January 01, 2021 by Samuel Anthony
How can something insoluble, like dietary fibre, be so good for us? The truth: we rely on bacteria to break down insoluble fibre. Discover the many health-promoting and preventative effects of fibre with this high-fibre foods list. Learn just how much should we be getting.
What is insoluble fibre?
Dietary fibre describes complex carbohydrates in plant-based food sources that cannot be digested by the body’s small intestine.
Complex carbohydrates require further breaking down to release energy – reducing the likelihood of an energy/blood glucose surge.
The large bowel allows high-fibre foods to be digested, by our “special friends”: healthy bacteria that form the microbiome.
Fibre gets broken down by the millions of bacteria working for us inside our bowels into energy, and other useful compounds.
Without those “special friends”, or beneficial gut bacteria, many of our high-fibre foods are not digested, which can lead to increased inflammation and physical and mental health.
Without fibre, the healthy gut bacteria have limited food sources and reduce in number – leading to health issues and potentially increased susceptibility to infection.
The recommended intake of fibre for adults is around 30g of dietary fibre per day.
There is no fibre in meat, fish, eggs or dairy!
So, get experimental and try some of these delicious high-fibre plant-based foods.
Health Benefits of High Fibre Foods
Fibre performs an essential function in aiding peristalsis (the entire digestive process).
Fibre, remaining undigested throughout most - if not all of - its journey through our body, helps push food through the intestines.
The major high-fibre health benefit is to our microbiome in providing an essential food source to Bacteroides.
Residing far deeper in our large intestines than much of our easily digestible foods make it to, these healthy bacteria rely on complex carbohydrates and fibres to survive.
They do reward us for providing them with a high-fibre diet.
High-fibre foods can boost specific bacterial species which are associated with a healthy and functioning mind and body.
Ever-growing research into the relationship between a healthy microbiome and healthy host is demonstrating that when the bacteria in our gut is in balance, we enjoy regulated inflammation, better sleep, raised energy levels, improved recovery and repair of old cells and mitochondria, reduced cardiovascular risks, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.
High fibre foods help us achieve diverse populations of beneficial and healthy bacteria – as well as control the numbers of those potentially harmful microbes.
One group of our “special friends” enjoys the taste of the mucus produced by the gut wall – stimulating it for more and therefore creating a mucosal-bacterial lining between the gut wall and circulatory system. This acts as a vital protection against viruses and harmful toxins from entering our body and raising inflammation or causing disease.
Increasing consumption of high-fibre foods can therefore serve the function of reducing harmful excess inflammation, before it leads to disease and chronic illness.
High Fibre Foods can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease
In 2013 researchers at the University of Leeds investigated insoluble fibre intake and its impact on the risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD).
The investigation observed, “significantly lower risk of both CVD and CHD with every additional 7g per day of fibre consumed.”, the University added that, “an additional 7g of fibre can be achieved through one portion of whole grains (found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta) plus two to four servings of fruit and vegetables or a portion of beans or lentils.
The benefits of increased insoluble fibre in your diet are just one notifier of how your lifestyle can greatly impact the risks of suffering from diseases.
Through utilising gut bacteria much deeper in the digestive system, fibres are metabolised into a great source of long-lasting energy.
High fibre foods can therefore give you more energy to combat lethargy, perhaps the motivation to work out that you need on that rainy day.
The energy fibre can provide not only benefits day-to-day activity but can also provide the energy your body needs for vital functions – including healthy respiration, and functioning organs.
Fibre, good for weight loss?
Firstly, and most obviously, high-fibre foods take up more space in the stomach and make us feel full - which can make fibre good for weight loss.
In fact, adding insoluble fibre to a meal can reduce the time it takes until you feel satisfied and can therefore reduce calories.
That said we should not all be focusing on one-goal-fits-all with nutrition for weight-loss.
Remembering that, while obesity is on the rise, it is not everyone’s goal to lose weight and for many calorie-controlled-diets and slimming-obsessions can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
High-fibre plant-based foods are a great source of energy and can make you lose fat when significantly increased in your diet, while also - in some cases - allowing you to eat more frequently – focusing on the quality of food rather than quantity.
Risks of low fibre diets
95% of American adults and children don’t meet the recommended daily fibre intake. In America, the mean daily fibre intake is estimated to be 16.2 grams.
What does this mean for their health? What are the main risks associated with low insoluble fibre?
Low-fibre diets can impact microbial balance in the gut – microbial balance is revealing itself to be very closely linked with a range of health conditions, including inflammatory diseases like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
You may already have heard of the term “leaky gut syndrome”. Proponents of this apparently controversial idea claim that without sufficient microbes and proteins lining the gut wall, harmful toxins can enter the bloodstream through the loosened cellular lining and raise bodily inflammation.
This can lead to Crohn’s, IBS, celiac disease, diabetes, food allergies and more.
Additionally, poor gut bacterial balance caused by low insoluble fibre diets can lead to chronic obesity, which is not as simple as weight gain.
Chronic obesity occurs when an immune response causes fat cells to stop dividing – typically we divide and disperse fat storage – and begin fat cell growth/swelling.
Obesity is not simply excess fat storage; it is swollen fat cells packed with immune cells – it, in fact, appears much closer to an autoimmune attack than simply fat storage.
Therefore it is possible that through control of inflammation – remember these special friends of ours do not wish to die or lose their host, so controlling our inflammation benefits them, too – chronic obesity and its risks can be reduced.
According to Cancer Research UK, increasing fibre may be beneficial in preventing or reducing the risk of bowel cancers.
Through both beneficial metabolites (broken down food) produced by bacteria from fibre, and the fact that fibre helps us in transporting food more efficiently, bowel cancer risks can be reduced with fibre through speeding up the removal of harmful toxins from our bowels as well as through producing anti-inflammatory compounds when broken down.
Heart diseases, too, may be reduced and even reversed through consuming more high-fibre foods as mentioned previously.
We can therefore see clear benefits from consuming more fibre, as well as significantly increased risks to health when consuming low-fibre diets – such as that of the average modern-day American.
So, just where can we get this amazing foodstuff from?
High Fibre Foods List
High fibre foods are in your fridge right now. They are without a brand, they are unprocessed, they do not contain simple sugars or additives, they do not cost a fortune, they are as modest as nature itself.
High-fibre foods sources include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses. Nature’s goodies for predominantly herbivorous mammals, like human beings.
Here are the top food sources for high-fibre:
- Apple (4.4g per medium apple)
- Avocado (9.2g per avocado)
- Blackberries (7.6g per cup)
- Blueberries (3.6g per cup)
- Orange (4.4g per orange)
- Pear (5.5g per pear)
- Raspberries (8g Per Cup)
- Banana (3.1g per medium banana)
- Artichokes (7g per medium)
- Parsnips (6g cup cooked)
- Brussels (4g per cup)
- Kale (3g per cup)
- Sweet Potato (4g per medium)
- Carrot (2g medium)
- Beetroot (2g per beet)
- Broccoli (5g per cup)
- Peas (8.3g per cup)
- Lentils (13.1g per Cup Cooked)
- Kidney Beans (12.2g Cup Cooked)
- Chickpeas (12.5g per cooked cup)
- Quinoa (5.2g cooked cup)
- Oats (16.5g per cup raw)
- Wholemeal bread (7g per 2 slices)
- Wholewheat Pasta (8.8g per 75g serving)
- Brown Rice (1.3g per 75g serving)
Nuts and Seeds
- Almonds (4g per 3tbsp)
- Chia Seeds (9.75g per ounce)
Fibre is a vital nutrient that we simply cannot ignore. The potential for disease control and symptomatic easing is relatively unparalleled by other macro/micronutrients. The health benefits, boosted energy and gut flora (microbiome) balance make high-fibre foods an essential component for a healthy diet.
Microbiome: Whole Food Against Disease
Microbiome studies have shifted bacteria from disease-causing to vital for immune health when fed high insoluble fibre diets like whole food plant-based.Read article
Sources & Further Reading
The following articles, resources and studies have either been used for research purposes in the writing of this article or as suggested furthering reading.
1 - Live Science: 'What is Fiber?'
2 - Clever Guts: 'Reboot your biome'
3 - Peirce, J. M, Alvina K 'The role of inflammation and the gut microbiome in depression and anxiety'
4 - Bupa Health Information 'Fibre'
5 - Viva 'Fibre more important than you think'
6 - Alanna Collen '10% Human'
7 - Rooks M. G., Garrett W. S. 'Gut microbiota, metabolites and host immunity'
8 - University of Leeds 'Greater dietary fibre intake associated with lower risk of heart disease'
9 - British Medical Journal 'Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis'
10 - Barko et al. 'The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: A Review'
11 - Hanson et al. 'The Relationship between Dietary Fiber Intake and Lung Function in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys'
12 - Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. 'Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap'
13 - Wong C, Harris P. J, Ferguson L. R. 'Potential Benefits of Dietary Fibre Intervention in Inflammatory Bowel Disease'
14 - Jamie Eske 'Leaky gut syndrome: What it is, symptoms, and treatments'
15 - Cancer Research UK 'Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?'
16 - British Heart Foundation 'Fibre-rich diet could protect your heart'