Be good to your gut - up your fibre intake! Data from more than 4,500 individuals has shown that eating a high fibre diet resulted in 15-30% fewer deaths from heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and bowel cancer.

A study published today in the Lancet by the World Health Organisation has definitively shown the benefit of having a diet high in fibre in terms of protecting us against major killer diseases, including bowel cancer.

The evidence is overwhelming and this is a game-changer that people need to start doing something about.

said Professor John Cummings, one of the report's authors.

Fibre and your gut

We know that fibre is good for gut transit and helps to combat constipation but these findings support our increasing knowledge of how our guts function and the amazing job that they do.

In the small intenstine fibre contributes to how we feel "full" after a meal and supports the absorption of fat. What happens in the large intenstine is now becoming clearer. Until fairly recently it was thought that fibre just bulked out stools as our food is digested and waste transits through the bowel.

We are now beginning to understand much more about the bacteria that live in our guts, and which have a huge impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Fibre feeds these guys.

We have this organ set up to digest fibre which most of us don't use very much.

said Professor Cummings

Implications for low-carb dieting

Bowel & Cancer Research understands that for some individuals living with bowel disease, eating a diet high in fibre is not recommended. However, today many individuals who could be eating fibre aren't in favour of diets which are low in carbohydrates. This radically affects the amount of fibre they are eating.

This report has underscored the importance of dietary fibre for overall, long-term health and next year the World Health Organisation aims to follow up with guidelines on recommended intake for health.

How to increase your fibre intake

Eating between 25g and 29g of daily fibre is recognised now as a "high fibre" diet and it is estimated that switching to this from a low fibre diet would prevent 13 deaths and 6 cases of heart disease in every 1,000 people.

Try these simple tips to help:

  • Cook potatoes with the skin on rather than peeling them
  • Eat wholemeal pasta, rice and bread instead of white
  • Try porridge oats or other high fibre cereals for breakfast
  • Introduce pulses such as chickpeas, lentils and beans
  • Eat your "five a day" fruit and veg
  • Snack on nuts rather than biscuits and chocolate

Vist our diet and gut health pages for more information.