Roughage is lacking in our diet- we should be eating 30 gr/day. Its divided up into soluble and insoluble: meaning that it dissolves in water and the insoluble roughage is very important for the gut microbes, that can ferment it helping to keep the microbiome healthy. Guardian Microbiome article
Over the centuries the amount of insoluble roughage in our diet has fallen as we’ve increasingly processed our food. Removing dirt often meant removing the outer skin or husk of vegetable where the insoluble roughage is highest. To protect our teeth from the stone chips produced in the milling process the flour we use has been sieved and made as small as possible. The most common style of flour in the world is white & fine.
Potatoes, wheat, pulses & rice in their original form are all great sources of fibre but over the years it has become unthinkable not to sell and serve them in as refined a form as possible. Our gut needs fibre so we need to go back to wholefoods and use unprocessed grains and pulses to give the microbes in our gut the roughage they need. Research published in the BMJ shows we need to up our daily intake to between 25-30 gr/day. World Health organisation recently reported the health benefits of a high roughage diet as being loss risk of cancers ( breast, bowel in particular) reduced inflammation of the bowel, lower risk of T2 diabetes and lower risk of heart disease. BBC Article on roughage
How to do it?
So how do we get our insoluble roughage quantity up? Simple-you eat better: Unprocessed food is a start-more fruit and vegetable, particularly pulses. Think of your gut as a living thing because it is. In order to function you need to feed it all things it wanted when it evolved. We were hunter gatherers for tens of thousands of years before we became farmers. We’ve only been processing the food we eat for the past 500 years. To give you some examples of food and their roughage content; a banana has 3 gr in it and a slice of brown bread has 2 gr. Use pulses as they’re a good source and start the day with a high fibre cereal such as oats or wholewheat.
At first the higher roughage diet can make you feel bloated as the microbes begin to get to work but drink plenty of water and things will move into equilibrium pretty quickly.