Dutch people eat too little fiber, with a clear dip in the weekend

We eat too little fiber and especially on Saturdays we find it hard to consume the recommended daily intake. This is quite striking in the preliminary outcome of research by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) together with -inter alia- de Maag Lever Darm Stichting (MLDS). The research aims to unveil whether personalized food advice increases fiber intake of healthy people.

Dutch people eat too little dietary fiber, despite it's importance for a healthy digestion and thus a good overall health. Women are advised to eat 30 grams of fibers per day, while men should eat 40 grams of fibers per day. On average we ingest only 18 (women) to 22 grams (men), according to the Food Consumption Survey of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and The Environment (RIVM). Together with researchers of WUR, the Maag Lever Darm Stichting wants to tackle this problem.

Saturday dip
“The final results of the project are not yet available, but we can already see a remarkable ‘dip’ in fiber intake on Saturdays”, says researcher Iris Rijnaarts. “So people find it harder to eat enough fibers on Saturday. Why? Perhaps a different planning of the day and a different rhythm play a big role. There are more temptations and our discipline to eat healthy is lower. A quick bite in, for example, the soccer cafeteria is an easy choice”, Iris tells. But with a few small and smart adaptations it is easy to get some extra fibers.

From filling to feeding: fiber up your Saturday
In short: we can use some tips to increase fiber intake on Saturdays. Three things which you can apply from next weekend are:

  1. Choose small but smart adaptations. You can get some extra fibers by some simple switching tricks. Choose whole grain bread or 100% whole grain products instead of wheat bread or wheat flower. Pick brown rice instead of regular rice. Put those extra pieces of fruit in your bag or take a handful of nuts (and make it a habit in your day planning!). This is a win-win solution, because thanks to the satiating effect of fibers you will need less snacks later on! The fiber meter shows precisely which products contain the most fibers.
  2. Fancy a snack? A tip for sweet cravings: prepare some tasty fiber rich snacks in advance that satisfy your sweet cravings. For example oatmeal cookies, or cocos-date balls. Savory craving? Before ripping open the bag of chips or putting on the frying pan, take advantage of one of these savory snacks. They are both nutritious and tasty; that's a promise!
  3. Soup! A bowl of soup is for many people a loved meal or lunch in the weekend. Instead of choosing a soup with clear broth, make in short time a fiber rich, nutritious alternative. Choose pureed vegetables as base. Sweet potato, pumpkin, tomato, pepper or celery: the choice is huge. And add for example legumes like lentils to give an extra fiber boost.

The research
The research distinguishes two groups of participants. The first group of participants received information about fibers via brochures of the Voedingscentrum and the MLDS. Additionally, they were referred to websites of both parties which contained more fiber tips. The second group received personalised fiber advice via an application. “We made sure participants could make adaptations to the advice easily, for example, whole grain crackers instead of crackers, or brown rice instead of rice, an extra piece of fruit. Altogether, small adaptations can lead to a big change in fiber intake. According to participants, changing breakfast into a more fiber rich alternative was the easiest, while changing dinner was the hardest. We already notice that people would like the fiber advice to be as concrete as possible. So preferably on product level”, Iris said. “We also noticed that people would like to get more inspiration (like recipes) and personal feedback of a mentor. Early 2020 we hope to publish the complete results of the research.”

The research is a cooperation between Wageningen University & Research, de Maag Lever Darm Stichting, TNO, Bolletje, Kellogs, Sensus and Sonneveld.


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