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Fibre Focus

September 22nd, 2015 | Lifestyle, Nutrition

by Jade Barkett, Wellbeing Manager.

Food, meal preparation and eating are massive parts of our lives and to most (well, definitely me!) very enjoyable experiences. However, due to the ever increasing choices and availability, deciding what to eat can be overwhelming. We often forget that the reason we eat is to nourish our bodies with nutrients so that we stay healthy and active in our day to day lives.

The flow of food through our digestive system is choreographed by various muscle contractions in the stomach and intestines such that nutrients can be absorbed efficiently and waste matter removed effectively. The small intestine is responsible for the completion of digestion as well as the absorption of nutrients. The main functions of the large intestine are to aid the absorption of water and minerals into the body and store solid digestive waste until it is excreted. The speed at which food moves through the gut is determined by the amount and type of food we eat. Fibre plays a very important role in assisting the small and large intestines with their functions.

Fibre comes from the fibrous and supportive structure of plant based foods such as fruit and vegetables as well as grains and legumes. It is referred to as either being soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibre breaks down in the stomach forming a gel-like substance, delaying the emptying of the stomach and making us fuller for longer. Insoluble fibre cannot be broken down by our digestive processes, they absorb water and add bulk therefore helping prevent constipation and having a laxative-effect on the bowel.

Grace’s gluten free bread is an ideal source of fibre due to its key ingredient, psyllium. Psyllium is a form of insoluble fibre and therefore effective as a bulk-forming laxative. It soaks up water making bowel movements much easier by helping to cause movement of the intestines. Despite its digestive benefits psyllium also contributes to the many other benefits of insoluble fibre.

Fibre also has the following other health benefits:

Cholesterol: Studies show that soluble fibre binds to cholesterol in the intestine and inhibits its uptake in the body by allowing it to pass out of the body in the stool.  Soluble fibre such as in barley & oats, pectin found in apples & pears, and mushrooms are especially useful.

Blood sugar levels: Various research teams have shown that adding high fibre foods to meals can improve blood sugar control.  A high fibre breakfast can often steady the sugar levels in the blood beyond lunchtime.  Including fibre at lunch and dinner will improve on this stability throughout the day and over time establish an on-going healthy blood sugar level.

Colon health: The use of fibre can help support the ‘good’ bacteria in our large intestine providing the fuel that it needs to keep us healthy.  A healthy supply of fibre is associated with a reduced risk of cancer of the colon.

The following foods are high in fibre and should be included in one’s daily diet:

Vegetables & Fruits:

(Vegetables contain more fibre than fruit)Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Beet Greens, Dried Peas, Raspberries, Winter Squash, Pear, Broccoli, Cranberries, Spinach, Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Asparagus, Carrots, Oranges, Strawberries, Fennel, Cauliflower, Kale, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Kiwifruit, Romaine Lettuce, Chilli/Bell Peppers, Bok Choy, CeleryGrains:Barley, Wheat, Rye, Quinoa, OatsLegumes:Lentils, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds

When increasing fibre in your diet, do this slowly and ensure you are increasing your intake of water. If using beans for the first time, note that these can be challenging to digest. If buying tinned, ensure that you rinse well before using to remove the froth and then follow the preparation rules on the can. Dried beans should be soaked for a minimum of 24 hours, rinsed after the first 12 hours and refill with fresh water then leave to soak for another 12 hours. Rinse well before cooking and serving.

Grace’s Gluten-free Bread Recipe
When increasing fibre in your diet, do this slowly and ensure you are increasing your intake of water. If using beans for the first time, note that these can be challenging to digest. If buying tinned, ensure that you rinse well before using to remove the froth and then follow the preparation rules on the can. Dried beans should be soaked for a minimum of 24 hours, rinsed after the first 12 hours and refill with fresh water then leave to soak for another 12 hours. Rinse well before cooking and serving.(Vegetables contain more fibre than fruit)Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Beet Greens, Dried Peas, Raspberries, Winter Squash, Pear, Broccoli, Cranberries, Spinach, Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Asparagus, Carrots, Oranges, Strawberries, Fennel, Cauliflower, Kale, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Kiwifruit, Romaine Lettuce, Chilli/Bell Peppers, Bok Choy, CeleryGrains:Barley, Wheat, Rye, Quinoa, OatsLegumes:Lentils, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups of cold water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 a cup of flaxseeds
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of psyllium husks
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano spice (Any herb will work i.e. basil, rosemary, thyme, mixed)
  • Big pinch of salt

Instructions:

To start place the almonds, quinoa flakes and one cup of pumpkin seeds into a blender and whiz for a few minutes until a smooth flour forms. Transfer this flour into a bowl and add the remaining pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, psyllium husks, chia seeds, dried oregano and salt. Stir well and then gradually add the water.

You will need to let this sit for about an hour so that all the water can be absorbed and the mix is left very firm (not at all runny). During this time heat the oven to 180C.

Once the mix is very firm – if it is just a little bit runny add some more psyllium – grease a loaf tin with coconut or olive oil and pour in the mix. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to pat down the mixture so it is tucked in the tin pretty tight. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes until you can stick a knife in the center and take it out clean. Wait for it to cool before you slice, smother and enjoy!

The breads lasts longer in the fridge or you can store it in the freezer if you haven’t eaten it all or are making batches. Try toasting it so maybe leave a few cut slices in the freezer so it’s easy to pop in the toaster.