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Q&A – Dietary Fibre. What is it and why do we need it?

Nutrition Tip – How choose to choose high fibre bread, cereals & crackers

Article – The importance of drinking enough water & why coffee isn’t water

Recipe – Mozzarella, basil & zucchini frittata


Dietary Fibre. What is it and why do we need it?

Dietary fibre is a non-digestible part of plant foods. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds naturally contain dietary fibre. Our body cannot break down fibre or use it for energy, however dietary fibre is important and has many health benefits for the body! The health benefits depend on the type of dietary fibre eaten. Let’s take a look at the different types of fibre and where we can find them. Plant foods generally contain a mixture of the different types of fibres but will usually be predominant in one type of fibre.

Soluble Fibre

Soluble fibre acts like a sponge and absorbs water as it moves down the digestive tract, forming a gel like substance. The increased viscosity slows down the movement of the food from the stomach into the intestine, the overall time of the food in the gut, as well as the breakdown of the food into its smaller components by the digestive enzymes. The result of this is the slowing down of the absorption of glucose/ sugar from the gut to the blood, resulting in a lower amount of sugar in the blood, a more constant supply of glucose over a longer period of time, more sustained energy levels and increased satiety. Soluble fibre can and should therefore be used in weight management and the management of blood sugar levels in diabetes.

Because of the increased viscosity, soluble fibre can be used to improve diarrhoea as it slows down movement of the food through the digestive tract. In addition to this, soluble fibre also reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the body by trapping cholesterol and bile in the gel like mixture that is formed. This means that less components are available for making cholesterol.

You can find soluble fibre in oats, oat bran, barley, eggplant, sweet potato, squash, corn, legumes (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas), chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, peanuts, apples, oranges, pears and the flesh of many other fruits.

Fermentable Fibre

This type of fibre is also referred to as prebiotics. Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, as the gut bacteria use it as a source of fuel by fermenting it. The bacteria in your gut make up the gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome reduces inflammation in the body, which could lower the risk of a wide range of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

You can find fermentable fibre in oats, oat bran, barley, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, seaweed, bananas and legumes (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas).

Insoluble Fibre

Insoluble fibre does not absorb water as it moves down the intestinal tract, but instead water ‘sticks’ onto it, thereby adding bulk. This then acts like a broom and sweeps through your intestines to move the intestinal contents along. Insoluble fibre is therefore great for alleviating constipation. Since it speeds up the movement of food along the gut it reduces the amount of time that the intestine is exposed to harmful toxins or carcinogens and may therefore help to prevent colon cancer.

Insoluble fibre can be found in popcorn, quinoa, wheat bran, whole wheat, whole rye, most vegetables, apples avocado, berries, guava, pears, legumes (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas) and most nuts and seeds.

How much fibre do we need?

The recommendations for fibre intake are 25g/day for women and 38g/day for men. It’s important to eat a variety of whole pant foods such as such as grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds to obtain the different types of fibre and the various benefits that they each provide. If you are not used to eating high fibre foods, it is recommended to slowly introduce more fibre into the diet, as a sudden switch from a low-fibre diet to a high-fibre diet may lead to some abdominal pain and increased flatulence.

Here are a couple of ways you increase your fibre intake:

  • Choose a fibre rich breakfast cereal or porridge such as: oats, Weetbix, All bran flakes, Pronutro whole-wheat
  • Add 1-2 tbsp. oat bran to cereals, porridges and stews
  • Add seeds or nuts to breakfasts and salads
  • Snack on fruit, dried fruit and nuts
  • Make sure at least half of your plate is filled with vegetables
  • Add legumes to soups, stews, salads and curries or have roasted chickpeas as a snack


Choose wholegrain or whole-wheat breads and crackers


How choose to choose high fibre bread, cereals & crackers

Processed foods usually contain much less fibre compared to whole plant foods. This is because some of the fibre plus many vitamins and minerals are lost during the processing. It is therefore very important to read food labels when buying processed foods to make sure that you are choosing foods that are still a good source of fibre. When buying foods like bread, cereals and crackers, you want the amount of dietary fibre to be 6g or more per 100g of the product. This will mean that the product is a good source of fibre.

nutrition tips - kim hoffmann


The importance of drinking enough water and why coffee isn’t water

Drinking enough water is essential as it makes up about 60% of the body. It is important for the optimal functioning of many systems in the body.

Why We Need Water

functions of water in body - kim hofmann

We lose water daily through urination, sweating, breathing and bowel movements, therefore these water losses need to be replaced each day. Even more water is lost if you do heavy exercise and sweat a lot, if you live at higher altitudes or in extreme temperatures and if you have illnesses such as fever and diarrhoea. If the water that is lost is not replaced, you can become dehydrated which results in lethargy, headaches and the feeling of wanting to eat.

Water is also essential when you start increasing your fibre intake! This is because water is vital for the proper functioning of the fibre, and if you don’t drink enough water it can result in abdominal pain, flatulence, constipation and bloating.

A good way of knowing whether or not you are drinking enough during the day is if you feel your thirst signal and get thirsty throughout the day. If you don’t feel the thirst signal, it may mean that you are not drinking enough. When you ignore these thirst signals and don’t put fluids in when the body asks for it, the body stops sending out this signal and sends out a hunger signal instead, in the hope of obtaining some fluid from the food that you eat. Hunger and thirst can therefore be confused with one another.

How much water do we need? Ideally we should be drinking to thirst but generally you can calculate the amount of water that you need by using the following equation:

Number of glasses of water = body weight in kg divided by 10, plus 2
E.g. If your weight is 73kg, you will need 73 / 10 + 2 = 9 glasses of water per day
*1 glass of water = 250ml

As a rule, the water that you drink during exercise does not count towards your daily water needs

Where can we get our water from? All decaffeinated beverages will count towards your fluid intake for the day. Coffee therefore does not count towards your fluid intake! Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that more water is lost from the body. Milk, fruit juice and herbal teas will count towards your fluid intake for the day but any water (whether still or sparkling) is always best. Remember too with fruit juice that 125ml is equivalent to one fruit so be careful if you are weight conscious. And of course, some of our fluid can come from foods, specifically fruits and vegetables.

tips for drinking water - kim hofmann


Mozzarella, Basil & Zucchini Frittata Recipe

Mozzarella, Basil & Zucchini Frittata


Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups thinly sliced red onion
1½ cups chopped zucchini
7 large eggs, beaten
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
⅔ cup pearl-size or baby fresh mozzarella balls
3 tbsp. chopped soft sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. Heat the oil in a large oven safe pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the eggs over the vegetables in the pan. Cook, lifting the edges to allow the uncooked egg from the middle to flow underneath, until nearly set, about 2 minutes. Arrange the mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes on top and place the pan iunder the grill until the eggs are slightly browned, 1½ to 2 minutes. Let stand for 3 minutes. Top with basil.
  4. To release the frittata from the pan, run a spatula around the edge, then underneath, until you can slide or lift it out onto a cutting board or serving plate.
  5. Cut into 4 slices and serve.


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