Nutrition in the News: Will Fiber Be the New Protein?

For years, protein has been the macro with the most focus on it. But with the current buzz surrounding gut health, could fiber become the new center of attention?

While protein is widely recognized for its role in muscle growth and repair, fiber and its host of benefits have often been overlooked. This might have somewhat contributed to the ‘fiber crisis’ we’re currently facing, with the current dietary guideline recommending that adults consume at least 30 grams of fiber per day for optimal health. Shockingly, the average British adult isn't even meeting the fiber recommendation for a five year old, with the average adult consuming just 19.8 grams of fiber daily – a shortfall of over 10 grams from the RDA.

There’s no doubt this underappreciated nutrient, with its wide range of health benefits and significant role in supporting the gut microbiome, needs better understanding. Here’s our nutrition team to break down the importance of fiber, along with some practical tips for increasing your intake.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can’t digest with their enzymes. Unlike other carbs that are absorbed in the small intestine, fiber travels through the gut and reaches the large intestine where it’s broken down by gut bacteria. It’s a key part of a balanced diet, and as mentioned, frequently overlooked.

Fibers are often classified based on their physiological effects, with different types having diverse impacts on our bodies. For example, some fibers can affect the rate of nutrient absorption, such as beta-glucan found in oats, while others can influence the gut microbiome. Fibers that bacteria in the large intestine can ferment are called prebiotics. The main products of fermentation are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that promote gut health and offer various health benefits.

What are the health benefits of fiber?

Helps to keep the digestive system working effectively

Fibre’s most well-known benefit is how it promotes regular bowel movements, adding bulk to stool, and facilitating its smooth passage through the intestines. Usefully, this can help prevent constipation.

Helps to control blood sugar levels

Fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. This gradual absorption contributes to better glycemic control.

Improves diversity of gut microbiome

Fiber acts as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria that is essential for digestive health.

Great sources of fiber

When looking to boost fiber intake, many people primarily focus on whole grains, but the options are much more diverse and exciting than what appears at face value. Cereals, whole grains, legumes such as lentils, a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and fortified products, such as soy milk are all excellent sources of fiber.

It’s important to include plenty of fiber at each meal, as many fibrous foods are also packed with vitamins and minerals. As a flag, it’s important to consume plenty of water to get the most out of your high fiber intake as fiber acts like a sponge.

Top tips to include more fiber in your diet

Start your day right

Sprinkle chia seeds and berries on your yogurt or porridge or even try a breakfast burrito with black beans and vegetables.

Clever Swaps

Go for wholemeal or granary bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice over white variations.

Snack smart

On a variety of fruits, such as berries and crunchy vegetable sticks such as carrots with hummus. Rye crackers and oatcakes are great options too.

Nutty goodness

Try out salad toppers such as almonds or pecans. Make your own trail mix with unsalted nuts, dried fruits and seeds.

Clever adds

Sprinkle seeds or nuts on yogurt, salads or even your stir fry. Bulk out your meals with pulses like beans and lentils.

Don’t forget

Leave skin on potatoes and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Always have a stock of frozen vegetables to add to a meal.

Action on Fiber initiative

As consumers start to seek ways to increase their fiber intake, innovative approaches are emerging. The incorporation of fibers such as chicory root fiber and soluble corn fibers, whilst also reformulating existing products is increasing to cater to the growing consumer interest in gut and digestive health,

The ‘Action on Fibre’ initiative, launched by the Food & drink Federation, aims to address the gap between the current fiber intake levels and dietary recommendations. It includes multiple pledges aimed at making higher fiber options more appealing and accessible to the general population.

A number of companies are actively working towards increasing fiber content in existing products and launching new ones that are at least a source of fiber. There is also work on educational campaigns focused on raising consumer awareness about fiber intake, highlighting steps towards improving public health through dietary choices.

Final thoughts

The data on fiber consumption is concerning - it’s evident that most people aren’t getting enough. Fiber offers a whole range of benefits, from supporting digestion to enhancing gut diversity, making the 30g daily target important.

At Huel, we recognize the significance of promoting increased daily fiber intake and incorporate excellent sources of fiber in our products. However, Huel is just one piece of the puzzle. We actively encourage a whole variety of ways to increase fiber consumption. From swapping to wholegrains to incorporating nuts and seeds into everyday meals like porridge or yoghurt, there’s a whole list of ways to up your fiber game.

Words: Jessica Stansfield RNutr

Please log in to your store account

To share with your friends, log in is required so that we can verify your identity and reward you for successful referrals.

Log in to your account If you don't have a store account, you can create one here

Check out why Hueligans love us on @huel

Share your #huel moments

Join our VIP list

Never miss out on new products, exclusive offers, and more when you join the Huel mailing list.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. You can unsubscribe at any time. Huel Privacy Policy