Most people in the UK only have around 14g of fibre a day, when the target is at least 18g. There are two basic types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre, found in whole grains, bran, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, adds bulk to your diet and aids in normal digestion. Soluble fibre, found in oats, beans, peas, apples, blueberries, dates, and pears, has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
To increase your intake of dietary fibre, start by reading labels and choosing foods that have a few grams of fibre per serving. Kick-start your day with a bowl of wholegrain cereal or bran. At lunch, choose whole-wheat bread and add vegetables to your sandwich, or select a salad and top it with vegetables, beans, and nuts. Enjoy whole grains at dinner along with more fruit and vegetables. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids while increasing your fibre intake to minimise any gastrointestinal discomfort.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluids a day and men should drink about 2 litres. For an average 200ml glass, that's around 8 glasses for women and 10 for men. Herbal and fruit teas can be a good way to boost hydration levels during colder weather.
Pay attention to thirst as well as the colour and odour of your urine. Dry mouth and concentrated (dark) urine are good indicators that you need more water. A dry environment, heat, and exercise, especially during warm weather, all increase hydration needs. Keep in mind your body constantly loses water as it evaporates from your skin. People with larger body surfaces and those who perspire or sweat more will lose more water through evaporation.
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