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Bread might not be your favourite, but it's good for our gut microbiome

Fibre in complex carbohydrates helps fight off diseases, says nutritionist

Fibre in complex carbohydrates helps fight off diseases, says Arthur Ramoroka, corporate nutritionist and Eat Well Live Well ambassador at Tiger Brands.
Fibre in complex carbohydrates helps fight off diseases, says Arthur Ramoroka, corporate nutritionist and Eat Well Live Well ambassador at Tiger Brands.
Image: 123rf

You may not be old enough (just like me) to know what was the best thing before sliced bread, but the high-fibre food has definitely stood the test of time in the culinary scene.

While bread may not be a favourite for many, it’s considered as a diet that includes all the food groups and a variety of high-fibre carbohydrates which are beneficial to our gut microbiome, mental health and overall wellness – this is according to Arthur Ramoroka, corporate nutritionist and Eat Well Live Well ambassador at Tiger Brands.

Bread is an extremely versatile staple that can be used to make sweet and savoury breakfasts, a lunchbox meal or a midday snack. It can be simple or eaten at a high tea, used to make croutons and in bread pudding.

Having high-fibre carbs is essential in your diet. For instance, a balanced and portion-controlled meal should include foods from each food group. Ramoroka advises that wholegrain and high-fibre carbohydrates – such as brown bread, seeded bread, whole grain bread, as well as oats, brown rice, brown or high-fibre pasta (that contains at least 6g of fibre for every 100g serving), buckwheat, millet, barley and bulgur wheat – are so-called complex carbohydrates.

“The fibre in complex carbohydrates makes you feel satiated for longer, while helping to reduce cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity,” he explained.

“Complex carbohydrates also require more time and energy to metabolise than calories found in refined carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates typically have a low glycaemic index (GI) which helps with sustained slow released energy, keeps you fuller for longer and helps with blood sugar and cholesterol control.

“This is why we should focus on the quality of the food or food group we consume, rather than simply the food’s calorie intake.”

Ramoroka adds our overall health and wellness is greatly influenced by our gut microbiome. What we eat, impacts the health of our digestive system, which relies heavily on our gut microbiota that lives within it.

“The trillions of microbiota (bacteria, viruses and fungi) in our gut play a pivotal role in regulating the body and ensuring it functions at its optimum. The gut influences everything from metabolism and hormonal function to the immune system, as well as brain behaviour and function," Ramoroka said.

“Our gut bacteria are dependent on what we eat. The more diverse our diets, the more diverse our gut microbiota. By regularly eating a gut-friendly diet that includes a large variety of fibre-rich foods such as legumes, fruit and vegetables with their skins, high-fibre carbohydrates such as brown bread, seeded bread and wholegrain bread, as well as naturally fermented and pickled foods, we can improve the functioning of our gut microbiome.

"A healthy gut functions better, absorb nutrients, produces enzymes and short-chain fatty acids ensuring that your body functions at its optimum.”

Ramoroka adds that eating a more fibre-rich diet that also includes fermented foods and drinks can significantly change our gut microbiome within a few weeks.

Here's a Triple-Decker Chicken Sandwich recipe you can try out: 

Ingredients

  • Streaky Bacon (8 strips)
  • 450 g boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Crosse & Blackwell Mayonnaise
  • 12 slices Albany Ultima Brown Bread
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 medium tomato

Takes 50 minutes to prepare and serves four people. 

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Fit a wire rack on a baking pan and place bacon strips in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, turn bacon strips and continue to cook until brown and just crisp – about 5 minutes more. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease.
  3. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and place on a lightly oiled baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C, turn the meat over and continue to bake until the internal temperature at the centre of the breast reaches 75°C – about 15 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch-thick strips.
  4. Stir wasabi powder and lemon juice together until paste forms. Blend in the mayonnaise, and evenly spread on the toasted bread.
  5. Place the watercress, chicken slices, and red onion on bread. Cut the tomato into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices. Top with a slice of toast, then layer tomato and bacon. Top with remaining slices of bread, insert toothpicks and cut into quarter triangles. Serve sandwiches immediately.

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