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90% of us aren't eating enough of this lifesaving food, scientists say

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 6 days ago Natalie Cornish
a bowl of fruit on a plate: Fibre is so important, not only for digestion but also for lowering our risk of life-threatening illnesses like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Find high-fibre foods and tips for increasing your fibre intake at Countryliving.com/uk. © Wanwisa Hernandez / EyeEm - Getty Images Fibre is so important, not only for digestion but also for lowering our risk of life-threatening illnesses like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Find high-fibre foods and tips for increasing your fibre intake at Countryliving.com/uk.

90% of Brits aren't eating the recommended daily amount of fibre, a new study has found. And upping our intake could protect against life-threatening illnesses like heart disease, strokes and type-2 diabetes.

A joint study by the University of Dundee and the University of Otago, in New Zealand, revealed that we should all be eating a minimum of 25 grams of fibre a day for optimum health. But only one in ten of us worldwide manage that amount. Most women consume just 17g and men eat around 21g.

             

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The digestive benefits of a fibre-rich diet are well established, but researchers say eating more roughage also has wider reaching health benefits.

After analysing 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, scientists found if 1,000 people shifted from a low fibre diet (less than 15g) to a high-fibre one (25-29g), then it would prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.

Steaming hot plain baked potato © Getty Steaming hot plain baked potato

Lead researcher Professor John Cummings told the BBC: "The evidence is now overwhelming and this is a game-changer that people have to start doing something about it."

But Professor Cummings admits eating more fibre is "quite a challenge" for most people.

Which high fibre foods should we be eating more of?

The NHS has these tips for upping your fibre intake:

1. Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain wholewheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre.

2. Go for wholemeal or granary breads, or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.

© Getty

3. Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes.

4. Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.

uncooked chickpeas in wooden spoon on white background © Getty uncooked chickpeas in wooden spoon on white background

5. Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries.

6. Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it's better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack.

7. For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts or seeds.

Gallery: 20 Superfoods That Everyone Thinks Are Bad for You [Men's Health UK]

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