Leading Northern Ireland flour mill Neill’s Flour is encouraging families across the Province to look at incorporating more fibre into their diets as part of ‘Fibre February’, a campaign led by the Flour Advisory Bureau (FAB) to raise awareness of the many benefits of eating fibre.
Recent research has suggested that 90 per cent of people aren’t eating enough fibre.
Fibre has huge health benefits that can help consumers live longer by reducing the chances of heart attacks, strokes and type-2 diabetes, as well as keeping weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.
Keavy O’Mahony-Truesdale, from Neill’s Flour, said: “Most of us have a general understanding that fibre-rich foods like wholegrain products, fruit and vegetables are good for us, but the advent of low (and sometimes no) carb diets has seen people move away from fibre and forget about the incredible benefits that it has to offer as part of a healthy diet.
“As part of our ‘Fibre February’ campaign, we’re really urging people in Northern Ireland to find out more about fibre and its long-term health benefits – and to ask themselves if they are eating enough of this ‘super nutrient’.
“Unfortunately, bread has had a bad press in recent years – due to low-carb dieting – but it is one of our food staples and an important source of fibre, providing a quarter of our daily intake, so we feel it is very important to remind everyone of the health benefits found in bread and urge them not to overlook this,” added Keavy.
Researchers claim that eating a minimum of 25g of fibre per day is ‘adequate’ for improving one’s health but people are advised to push for 30g to really enjoy the benefits that it has to offer. It is recommended that 2-5-year-olds should be eating 15g of fibre a day, 5-11-year-olds 20g a day, and 11-16 year olds 25g a day.
According to research, most people around the world are eating less than 20g of fibre a day, whilst in the UK less than one in 10 adults eats the recommended 30g of fibre daily – with only four per cent of women and 13 per cent of men eating that amount. On average, women consume about 17g per day, and men 21g per day.
Ian Hunter, Head Chef Proprietor at Belfast Cookery School, said that upping your fibre intake should not be seen as a chore. There is definitely a lack of awareness currently regarding the benefits of fibre,” said Ian. “On average men need to increase their fibre consumption by 50 per cent and women by a staggering 75 per cent – but given the health benefits it should really be a no-brainer.
“I think that people may not realise that many fibre-filled foods, such as bread, oats, fruit and vegetables, and beans and pulses, are full of colour, flavour, taste and texture.
“With a little imagination it’s easy to incorporate more fibre into your diet in tasty ways, and because fibre makes you feel full, you’re naturally going to eat less which helps keep the weight off.
“We’re delighted to support Neill’s Flour during ‘Fibre February’,” continued Ian. “All bread and flour products contain fibre and we would encourage people to get their aprons on and try their hand at baking their own bread – particularly wholemeal and brown loaves which contain more fibre than white bread.
“Six slices of wholemeal bread provides more than 50 per cent of the average fibre requirement for adults, while brown bread would provide around 40 per cent and white bread 22 per cent,” he added.
As well as bread, other foods containing fibre include fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, pasta that uses whole-grains, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds.
After analysing 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, the Lancet Medical Journal suggested that if you shifted 1,000 people 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 during the course of the studies, which tended to follow people for one to two decades.
The results also showed lower levels of type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer as well as lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“The evidence is there,” concluded Neill’s Flour’s Keavy O’Mahony-Truesdale. “Fibre is a food source that can save lives and help people live longer.”