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The F word: why bakers need to take note of fibre

Gut health is so hot right now. The trend for fermented food has got people sipping on kombucha, adding kimchi to scrambled eggs and scoffing sourdough like it’s going out of fashion.

But there’s one element of gut health that is frequently overlooked. I’m talking about the F word – fibre. Sure, it keeps you regular, but nans everywhere said the same about prunes and they certainly don’t have an Instagram-worthy profile.

But if #guthealth can get 1.5 million hits on Instagram, maybe fibre has a shot at being noticed.

Of course, it’s not all about social media. Government guidelines recommend that adults eat 30g of fibre a day and yet, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, updated in March 2018, only 4% of women and 13% of men are hitting that target.

And it’s a target worth hitting, particularly as a recent landmark review commissioned by the World Health Organization showed fibre can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

In a bid to boost the nation’s fibre intake, the Flour Advisory Bureau (FAB), part of the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim), has launched Fibre February – an entire month dedicated to promoting the benefits of fibre and, importantly to British Baker readers, how baked goods can help.

There’s a real opportunity here for the baking industry to help improve consumer health (and bottom lines), at a time when many products are under scrutiny for their salt, fat and sugar content.

While wholegrain bread has more fibre than your average loaf of sliced white, the focus doesn’t have to be entirely on better-for-you items. According to FAB, two chocolate digestives contain over 1.5g of fibre. It all adds up.

Notably, Tesco recently boosted the fibre content of own-label bakery items, including pies, pasties, sausage rolls and chilled garlic breads, with 100g of Tesco’s Chilled Ciabatta Slices now accounting for nearly 10% of an adult’s RDA of fibre.

So whether it’s shouting about the naturally high fibre content of many baked goods, or giving them a boost courtesy of a recipe tweak, small actions could lead to big changes and higher awareness of the benefits of upping your fibre intake.

Maybe, just maybe, #fibre could become a thing worth shouting about.


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