Roughage helps reduce the risk of heart disease and bowel cancer, yet few of us eat enough of it. Here’s how to up your intake

1. Get a feel for the figures

Fibre, or roughage, refers to indigestible carbohydrates. A fibre-rich diet is linked to health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease and bowel cancer. Understanding what is in your food can help: a typical apple contains 2-3g of fibre, a sesame bagel about 4g.

2. Switch to wholegrain

Simple substitutions can boost your fibre intake without you radically rethinking your diet. By moving to bran flakes from rice puffs for breakfast, wholemeal rather than white bread for a sandwich at lunchtime, and brown rice instead of white for dinner, you can raise your fibre intake by several grams.

[Did you know: sprouted grains are better for the gut]

3. Top up your meals

Adding a handful of raisins or nuts to breakfast cereals, seeds to salads, and chickpeas or lentils to a stew can help. Half a can of chickpeas is about 7g of fibre - and that can help to reduce the amount of meat you are adding.

4. Ditch the juicer for a blender

Blending smoothies keeps the fibre in there, says Prof Pete Wilde of the Quadram Institute.

Experts say it is better to eat fruit as solids rather than turn them into drinks, as juicing makes the sugar in fruit much more readily available.

5. Take it slowly

To avoid digestive problems such as bloating, gas and diarrhoea, it is important to increase fibre gradually, rather than boosting consumption suddenly. Consume plenty of fluids, too.