Close this search box.

The 3 Things You Need to Know About Fibre

For me, the topic of fibre is typical of the whole area of gut health. It seems straightforward at first but soon becomes complicated and confusing.

‘Eat more fibre!’ is one of the things you hear most often about digestive health. So often in fact that we might just tune it out… ‘yeah yeah, eat more fruit and veg, blah blah, whatever!’

Fibre is crucially important to the long term health of our microbiome and therefore our entire body, but did you know that if our gut is already in a bad state, eating high-fibre foods can actually make us worse?

What is fibre?

There are different kinds of fibre and varying definitions of what it is, but the bottom line is this:

‘Fibre’ is stuff we eat that we can’t actually digest.

This begs the question: why are supposed to eat food that we can’t actually digest?!

Back in our hunter-gatherer days, fibrous material came with the plants we found and consumed. It was part of the package.

These days fibre is added to packages of breakfast cereals and snack bars by manufacturers who want you to think their food is healthy (it isn’t!).

Our cavemen ancestors couldn’t avoid fibre even if they wanted to. There was no white bread or white rice around!

Another thing our early ancestors couldn’t avoid was bacteria (and neither can we). Their guts were full of microbes, as are the guts of all living creatures.  And one thing bacteria are good at, is breaking stuff down and converting it into fuel. That’s how they survive in the most hostile conditions on earth, such as volcanic undersea vents.

The result was a deal between our cavemen ancestors and their bacteria: the humans would provide food and shelter to the bacteria, and the bacteria would in turn help to break down food that we would otherwise be unable to digest, providing nutrients for them AND FOR US. 

This ‘deal’ of course was never hammered out over a negotiating table but we now know this is how Mother Nature works, through symbiosis and cooperation between different species.

Fibre Main Smaller

The result is that we are able to unlock nutritional goodness from otherwise indigestible fibre.

But it turns there are a lot more benefits to taking care of our little microscopic buddies. Read on!

Fibre Nurtures a Rich Microbiome

‘Microbiome’ is the collective name for the squillions of bacteria that live inside us. The list of ways we now know they help us is long, and getting longer every day as scientists carry out more studies.

For example, friendly bacteria help to:

  • fight off ‘bad’ bacteria that would make us sick
  • regulate our immune system so we’re not overwhelmed by allergies and unwanted inflammation
  • regulate our metabolism and hormones so we don’t get fat
  • regulate our brain development and mental state, for example by making neurotransmitters like serotonin.

When we eat fibre it feeds and supports the ecosystem that is our microbiome. For this reason foods and supplements that contain fibre are know as PREBIOTIC.

(By the way, prebiotics are not to be confused with PROBIOTICS, which are foods or supplements containing friendly bacteria.)

Without enough fibre there isn’t enough food for our many species of friendly gut bugs and they die back. This is a problem as we need as much diversity as possible in this ecosystem.

It’s exactly the same with other complex ecosystems such as rainforests and coral reefs: when they lose diversity they become weak and vulnerable to invaders or collapse.

If we regularly eat fibre our microbiome is happier. And when our microbiome is happy we immediately notice the difference because we feel better.

If we don’t eat enough fibre, the bacteria start eating the lining of our gut, a tasty mucous layer that’s vital for how our gut wall functions. The wall can then become inflamed and porous, leading to problems like leaky gut and colitis. Ouch!

Fibre Sometimes Makes Things Worse

We need enough of the right kinds of friendly bacteria to break down fibre. If we don’t have enough, what happens to the fibre we eat? It just irritates our gut and makes things worse.

That’s why gastroenterologists sometimes recommend low fibre diets to patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS, one of the most common and least understood gut problems).

If your gut is in a bad state this can be very confusing. You faithfully follow the standard advice and eat high fibre food, maybe a big bowl of All Bran or oats, and what happens? Your symptoms get worse: misery ensues.

How Do I Train My Friendly Bacteria to Cope With More Fibre?

So what should we do? For a start, it’s better to get your fibre from fruit and veggies rather than from processed breakfast cereals that are full of irritants like high-fructose corn syrup and gluten.

If your gut is currently suffering and you think fibre is making things worse, there are various different gut-healing protocols you can follow such as Paleo or Low-FODMAP.

As your gut starts to gradually recover over the course of weeks and months, you can gradually start increasing your fibre intake. If this causes a flare up of your symptoms, decrease or stop the fibre, then try again the following week.

Let’s recap…

The 3 Things You Need To Know:

  1. We can’t digest fibre. Without bacteria to break it down, fibre passes straight through us.
  2. Fibre feeds and nurtures our friendly bacteria, and they’re super important to our health
  3. If we don’t have enough of those helpful bacteria, eating fibre can make our symptoms worse.


Whenever you’re ready to become a fully-fledged Gut Geek™ here are 4 ways we can help you heal your gut, get your sh*t together and transform your health

1. Subscribe to receive regular strategies and hacks that you can use TODAY

All our blogposts and social media are focused on bringing simplicity to the baffling world of nutrition and supplements. We also provide easy-peasy action steps that you can use to start seeing immediate improvement. Subscribe to get the very best of our content straight to your inbox!

2. Follow our daily social posts and video stories religiously

Our content is produced in a combination of written posts and video stories, all neatly tied together around the topic of the week. This gives you constant learning in manageable, bite-sized chunks.

3. Join us for a live online workshop

Head to our workshop registration page for info on our next free online training, and get ready to geek out

4. Join our coaching program

There’s nothing like 1-on-1 coaching to massively accelerate your progress and achieve the results you dream about! We’ll create your very own personalised gut-healing roadmap and then guide you through it. Just send us a message telling us a little about your current challenges and what you’d most like help with and we’ll get right back to you.

42 thoughts on “The 3 Things You Need to Know About Fibre”

  1. Great moment you address here. Specialists often tell you to eat more fiber but it’s hard to understand what it actually means exactly for regular person. You post looks like something they need to make a chart from you and give people to read to properly follow the fiber recommendations

  2. Very insightful,we assume things at times believing they are good for body. But glad you busted that myth. I believe, everything in right potion and requirement is okay for our body.

  3. Most of the food I buy, it says high in fibre on the packages and I always thought “Oh, that must be good then!” I understand now why my tummy is irritable sometimes. That’s probably because of that. I’ll be more careful now… Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I learned so much from this blog and I agree with your tips. Eating foods rich with fibers help my digestion. I feel good every day!

  5. fibrous foods mostly veggies like celery leafy veg…and seeds that cant be digested easily…and most of the time when we poof it will come out like the same..but not all of it….doctors says to when you have hemmorhoid problem .that its good to it fibrous foods too

  6. Fibre intake is very important to out system. I have some fibre supplement which we take daily to help our gut and also the needed vitamins too. Thanks for this information.

  7. This post was actually extremely helpful, thank you! I’ve always struggled balancing my fibre intake and have had digestive issues. I never actually knew that fibre passes right through us and can’t be digested without bacteria. I always tried to UP my fibre intake to help me and didn’t realize that some of the fibre may not be the right choice. Thank you for such an informative and helpful post! 🙂 This really does make a huge difference for me!

    1. Wow this is so informational. I never new about this until this article. And I love how you asked the question that I was thinking in my mind, “how can we eat things that arent digestible?!?!” Thanks for sharing!

  8. That’s lots of info about fibre that I didn’t expect! I always thought they’re good all the time, I guess not. Thanks for sharing!

Let us know what you think

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this article

Help spread the word! Every share matters.

Other recent blog posts

5 Steps to Successful Detox!

If our gut isn’t functioning properly we end up carrying around a lot more toxins on a daily basis than we should be. These toxins can drastically affect the way we feel, lowering our defences to illness and contributing to chronic inflammation around our body.

3 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Sugar Cravings

Consuming tons of sugar is bad for the gut health of both children and adults but children can be hit hardest by sugar cravings. Here are 3 simple steps you can take today to reduce your child’s cravings

Kickstart Your Kids’ Gut Health

The early years of a child’s life are a crucial time for the formation and development of their microbiome. If the wrong microbes get into their gut, it can set them on a path to lifelong problems.

Probiotics and Our Magical Microbiome

It’s weird when you think about it… taking a probiotic means that we’re consuming billions of tiny live organisms that are going to make our body work better. So how does it work and how do we choose the best probiotic?

Brain Health Begins In The Gut

Mental health problems are complex with many contributing factors. There’s now mounting evidence that the state of our gut may be a MUCH bigger factor than we could ever have imagined.

The Shocking Ways Antibiotics Can Destroy Our Health

Although antibiotics save lives every day they are also now linked to some of the biggest health challenges of our age such as diabetes, obesity and cancer. Why? Because of how they lay waste to our friendly gut bugs.