To feel well in body and mind, we need to review our gut health. Most Australians are not consuming enough fruit, vegetables or fibre. Plant foods are an excellent source of gut healthy fibre and prebiotics. These provide a sense wellbeing, by improving our immunity, digestion and elimination.
With improved elimination gives our skin a brighter glow, maintains our weight, improves heart function, balances blood sugars, reduces sugar cravings and helps prevents chronic disease.
Plant wholefoods are nutrient rich and a great way to increase your protein intake as well. All of the essential amino acids that are required for protein synthesis originate in plants.
How much fibre do we need?
We need 25-35 grams fibre per day to keep us well. Protein requirements differ per individual however approx. 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman is a general guide. The Dietary Reference Intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Plant-based fibre and protein ideas
- Quinoa– is a magnesium rich seed and contains 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, and contains all 9 essential amino acids that our body requires for repair. Quinoa can be mixed into salads, breads and even made into a morning porridge.
- Beans and Legumes– 1 cup of cooked kidney beans contain about 15 grams protein. If buying in a tin, look out for organic options without added salt. Our ability to tolerate the amount of beans is very individual. Start with a small serve initially. Hummus is an easy tasty way to include more legumes into your diet. 1 cup of cooked black beans, or kidney beans or lentils provides close to 13-16 grams of fibre.
- Nuts + Seeds – are also high in minerals. Nut milks are more popular now and ideal for smoothies. Hemp seeds contain all the 9 amino acids and are easily digested. 2 TBS chia seeds provides 11 grams of fibre. Try a chia seed pudding to support your digestion. Sesame seeds found in tahini are high in calcium, pumpkin seeds a source of iron and contains 12 grams of protein per cup. 50 grams of almonds is close to 11 grams of protein.
- Green Peas– are a low GI food and often used in protein powders now. One cup of green peas contains around 8 grams of protein and fibre. Peas taste great mixed through brown rice and both are an excellent source of prebiotics, to feed our gut microflora.
- Tempeh – is a fermented soybean or bean product that’s high in protein. A 100 g serve of tempeh has about 18g of protein. The fermentation process assists your digestion, so is gut friendly.
To further understand the protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements for your body type, a Naturopath or Nutritionist can look over your current diet to offer suggestions. The key to optimal wellness is a varied diet, including a diverse range of plant-based foods.
Gina Burn is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher with Elysia Wellness Retreat.