Colder weather is on our doorstep and there’s no escape from the icy cold mornings and nights. While you’re preparing for the drop in temperature by bringing out your thermals and thick cosy blankets, it’s important to also prepare your diet accordingly. This may sound absurd however, when comfort foods are in and cold fruits and salads are out, the end result could be an insufficient fibre intake. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONSUME ENOUGH FIBRE? Consuming sufficient amounts of fibre daily can significantly lower your risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. It can also lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels1. This probably isn’t new information to you and you’re trying your best to keep it up during winter. Surely one or two days of below average fibre intake won’t do any harm, right? Surprise, surprise, every single day counts! The mucosal layer is the innermost layer of the gut. It comes into contact with digested food. Fibre plays a vital role in the health of the mucosal layer. Research has shown that a diet lacking in adequate fibre leads to some organisms that might be sustained by fibre as a food source dying off. Those that survive look for alternative food sources, one of which is the gut’s mucosal layer2. To further investigate the effects of fibre on the mucosal layer, a study looked at a fibre free diet and high fibre diet every alternate day. This would compare to eating badly and consuming any fibre free fast food on one day and then consuming foods rich in fibre the next. The results showed a mucosal layer of half the thickness when compared to a group on a high fibre diet daily3. Mice were used for the purpose of this study however if these results can be applied to humans, then it is clear that meeting your fibre requirements every day is essential for a healthy gut. TIPS TO HELP YOU REACH YOUR FIBRE NEEDS THIS WINTER BREAKFAST 1. Oats so good! Save time and your taste buds with the FUTURELIFE® Smart Oats® and Ancient Grains, our multigrain blend of oats, rice, maize and the ancient grains, quinoa and sorghum. The product is high in fibre, rich in beta glucan (which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol) and containsselenium and zinc for immunity support. Just add boiling water or milk and enjoy in just one minute! Not only will it warm you up, but it is also high in 9 minerals. Be creative and increase the fibre content of your oats even further by adding fruit, nuts or seeds. 2. Get toasty If you’re more of an egg and toast breakfast person, get your fibre in with a slice of high fibre whole-wheat bread. Try to add some cooked vegetables to further increase the fibre of your meal and help you consume enough vegetables for the day. SNACKS 1. Bake and take Double your fibre kick by combining the dietary fibre from FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart food™ with the whole-wheat flour, add a few other baking ingredient essentials and make a delicious high protein muffin. Pack these muffins with extra fibre by grating fruit or vegetables into the mixture. Go to our recipes page for the full recipe. Save time by baking on the weekend and freezing muffins for the week. 2. Up your veg with a cup of edge When salads become less appealing, be sure to maintain fibre intake from vegetables. Cut up vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, celery, peppers and broccoli into sticks. Make a hummus dip to give your vegetable sticks an exciting flavour. Chickpeas, which make the base of hummus are also a great source of fibre. P.S. Mums, these cups are always popular with kids too. LUNCH AND DINNER 1. Include beans by all means Beans and lentils are a fantastic source of fibre and are oh so versatile. You can add them to your favourite winter soup or curry or use them as the base for various vegetarian meals. 2. Include a wholegrain in your main Whether you’re making a rice dish or indulging in a warm salad, make sure that you include at least one serving of wholegrains in every meal. Examples of wholegrains include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, buckwheat and quinoa. If making the switch to wholegrain is too hard, start by mixing them together and adding lentils (⅓ lentils, ⅓ brown rice and ⅓ white rice). Don’t let winter unbalance your diet. Comfort foods don’t have to be fatty or low in fibre. It’s all about making the smart choices and being creative. REFERENCES