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Fibre and the gluten-free diet



A low fibre diet is common for people who follow a gluten-free diet.  This is because gluten-free foods are often made with low fibre refined flours and starches.  Read on to learn about why fibre is important, how much you need, which gluten-free foods are higher in fibre and ways to get enough in your diet.

Why is fibre important?

Fibre plays an important role in keeping your digestive system healthy.  It is especially important if you have problems with diarrhea and constipation. Including enough fibre helps to relieve these problems and regulate your bowel movements. Fibre also helps to lower your cholesterol and manage blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Fibre may also help you maintain a healthy body weight and lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers like colon cancer.

How much fibre do I need?

The amount of fibre you need depends on your age and life stage. Aim for the following amounts of fibre every day:

Age group

Recommended amount of fibre per day (grams)

Children 1-3 years old

19

Children 4-8 years old

25

Boys 9-13 years old

31

Boys 14-18 years old

38

Girls 9-13 years old

26

Girls 14-18 years old

26

Men 19-50 years old

38

Men 51 and over

30

Women 19-50 years old

25

Women 51 and over

21

Pregnant women

28

Breastfeeding women

29

What gluten-free whole grains are high in fibre?

Look for gluten-free breads that have the following whole grains as the first ingredient.  You can also try experimenting in your kitchen with these flour varieties.

Gluten-free whole grain (per 1 cup serving)

Amount of fibre (grams)

Amaranth

18

Millet

17

Buckwheat

17

Oats (pure, uncontaminated)

16

Sorghum

12

Quinoa

10

Teff

11

Wild rice

10

Brown rice

6

Read more about whole grains here.

Which gluten-free foods are high in fibre?

Vegetables, fruit and legumes are naturally gluten-free and high in fibre. Foods with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving are a high source of fibre. Here are some examples of high fibre gluten-free foods:

Gluten-free food (250 mL or 1 cup)

Amount of fibre (grams)

Vegetables

Artichoke

10

Green peas

9

Broccoli

5

Turnip greens

5

Brussel sprouts

4

Sweet corn

4

Fruit

Raspberries

8

Pear, with skin

5

Apple, with skin

4

Banana

3

Legumes

Split peas, cooked

16

Lentils, cooked

16

Black beans, cooked

15

Lima beans, cooked

13

Baked beans, cooked

10

Nuts and seeds are also a source of fibre. Meats, poultry, fish, milk, cheese and yogurt do not contain a high source of fibre, but are rich in other nutrients.

Can I eat oats on a gluten-free diet?

Yes. The majority of people with celiac disease can enjoy pure uncontaminated oats, which are high in fibre. Most oats in North American are contaminated with other gluten-containing grains so it is important to only purchase pure uncontaminated oats. Children can safely eat 20-25g (¼ cup) and adults can eat 50-70g (½- ¾ cup) of dry oats per day. Including pure uncontaminated oats in your gluten-free diet is best after your diet has been controlled and you are not experiencing any digestive problems. Learn more about including uncontaminated oats in your gluten-free diet here.

Tips on adding fibre to your diet

Snacks

  • Add ¼ cup of pure uncontaminated oats to smoothies for an extra dose of fibre.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seed on top of yogurt for a healthy morning snack.
  • Making a fruit-crisp? Use quinoa, pure uncontaminated oatmeal or gluten-free granola for the topping.
  • Enjoy cooked amaranth, quinoa or teff on low-fat pudding as an afternoon treat.
  • Feeling low on energy? Snack on a handful of dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
  • Limit fruit juice and choose whole, fresh fruits as part of your morning breakfast or snack.
  • Add low-fat cheddar to whole grain crackers with apple slices for a satisfying mid-day snack.
  • Looking for a gluten-free after school snack? Try serving raw vegetables with hummus or a bean dip.

Meals

  • Add ground flax to hot cereals, along with ½ a cup of fresh berries or ¼ cup of chopped dried apricots.
  • Add fibre to your salads by adding brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff or wild rice.
  • Soups, salads and casseroles can be high in fibre and flavour by adding chickpeas, kidney beans or other lentils.
  • Looking for a tastier salad? Forget the iceberg lettuce and try romaine or spinach.  Add strawberries or mandarin oranges along with toasted slivered almonds with a low-fat sesame seed dressing.
  • Mix up a rice pilaf by adding cooked buckwheat, steel cut oats (pure, uncontaminated) or quinoa.
  • Mix pure, uncontaminated rolled oats or cooked brown rice or quinoa to hamburger patties or meat loaf.

Baking

  • Add ground flax or rice bran to pancakes or muffins.
  • Use high-fibre gluten-free whole grain flours in your baking such as brown rice flour, amaranth flour or oat flour.
  • Add dried fruit, nuts and seeds to homemade granola.

Bottom line

Following a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean having a low-fibre diet.  Getting enough fibre is important for a healthy lifestyle. Get creative with meals, snacks and baking by adding or substituting high-fibre grains, vegetables, fruit and legumes. If you need help following a gluten-free diet, call the dietitians at EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.

Last Update – October 9, 2016

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