Importance of Regular Fibre Consumption to Reduce Risk of Developing Chronic Diseases [Interview][Transcript]

dr_gina_levy_high_fibre_dietGuest: Dr. Gina Levy
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Dr. Gina Levy is the Senior Nutrition Manager ANZ at Kellogg. Gina has over 15 years’ experience as a dietitian in the food industry, and has also consulted for some of the largest food companies in Australia, as well as many non-government organisations.
Gina has a combined Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Biochemistry, a Bachelor in Nutrition and Dietetics with Honours, and a PhD in Biomedical Science. Gina integrates her breadth of knowledge and experience into developing and reformulating Kellogg’s products to improve their nutrition profile for consumers.
Gina is a member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, the Dietitians Association of Australia and the Nutrition Society of Australia.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we welcome Dr. Gina Levy from Kellogg’s ANZ here to share her insights on how a high fiber diet can help us from having chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Kellogg’s Nutrition Fibre Kit has been distributed to over 2,000 GPs providing helpful information to patients on how fibre can help with preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, bowel cancer, heart disease, weight management and regularity and easy ways to up your fibre intake. Doctor Levy will also discuss ways we can include fiber in our daily diet and how faddy diets contribute to the decline in fiber consumption especially on our aging population.


Health Professional Radio – High Fibre Diet


Patrick Reyes:   Welcome  to Health Professional Radio, my name is Patrick Reyes and on today’s show we have Dr. Gina Levy. She is a Senior Nutrition Manager ANZ Kellogg’s, she has over 15 years experience as a Dietician in the food industry, she is also a member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, the Dieticians Association of Australia and the Nutrition Society of Australia. Welcome to the show Gina.    

Dr. Gina Levy:    Thank you very much.

P:   You’re very welcome. Now can you tell us a bit of a background in the work that you do as a dietician?

L:   Absolutely, I think since the beginning of my career I’ve always been interested in food manufacturing and particularly how dieticians can influence the process of food manufacturing. So I think when many of us study dietetics, we’re not actually aware that this side of the profession actually exists but it certainly is a very worthy one and a very interesting one. In my case dieticians work in the food industry are responsible for lots of different aspects of the product journey, so things like… together with product development, also looking at how we maximize ingredients to make sure that we’ve got what we need in the product, looking at nutritional claims, how are we going to back it up with our research and having a look at how much of the actual nutrient is in the food and can we make sure that that amount of nutrients in the food, we also work with our regulatory advisers on the framework that governs what we can and can’t say and what goes into our packaging. We work with the brand team and the marketing team to advise on what we can or can’t say about our food and advertising and promotion and we make sure that there’s always substantiation for our messaging and that our messaging actually fits with current evidence and also current nutritional guidelines. One of the interesting things about dieticians that people may not know is that a dietician in the food industry often have an ability to influence the strategic direction a business is taking when it comes to nutrition so a lot of our work is really about how we influence the business and keep nutrition at the top of mind when it comes to the direction a business is taking. We also keep a very keen eye on the science, we keep a very keen eye on consumer trends so we can advise the business about where we think the nutritional trends are going and what we think is going to govern what consumers are looking for moving into the future.

P:   Alright, so let’s talk a little bit about fiber. How can regular consumption of fiber prevents chronic diseases?

L:   Which is a great question, we know from our latest National Nutrition Survey that Australians in general are not meeting their requirements of fiber and what we’re looking at is balancing fiber intake because there’s been some large, large cohort studies that have actually looked at fiber in reducing the risk of chronic disease and also all-cause mortality and one of the interesting things is that the most protective effect seems to be coming from grain fiber and from whole grains. Now what we try to advise is that we balance fiber intake so that we get fiber from fruits, from vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses. In that way people are able to enjoy all the different benefits but what we do know is that fiber is highly protective for diabetes and for cardiovascular disease, we also know that it has a role to play in bowel cancer prevention, it has a role to play in digestive health when it comes to reduction of symptoms of constipation and also keeping people regular and we also know that fiber does induce to some extent satiety which can help people to eat less at certain meals which may have a weight management effect.

P:   Now how important is it well not just for the aging population but for the overall community to include a high fiber diet in their meals?           

L:   Well I think it’s extremely important as I’ve just mentioned it’s not only the elderly people that need to consider they will have to reduce their risk of chronic disease but everyone really and it’s really easy to increase fiber intake. All we need to do is add one item with fiber to each meal and that can make a very big difference and particularly breakfast time because breakfast is an ideal time to start because many of the breakfast foods are very high in fiber so we know that people can get a great start on their fiber intake just from starting at breakfast. We know also from our National Nutrition Surveys that breakfast cereals are one of the top contributors to fiber intake so for example like a bowl of whole bran gives you almost half your daily fiber needs in one serve and then there’s lots of other breakfast for you that are high in fiber like oats, whole grain granolas, breakfast biscuits, flake cereals and other cereals like frittata bran, just adding a bit of milk a piece of fruit it’s a really easy cost effective way to get a decent fiber dose a bit for the morning and then get you started on for the day.

P:   And can you share with us information about Australia’s National Fiber Deficiency and how fad diets are contributing to the fiber deficiency?

L:   Okay, well our last National Nutrition Survey showed that one in two Australians are not meeting their fiber needs. Our latest survey shows that our fiber requirements is about 25 to 30 gm a day, women on average is about 20, men are getting about 24 so we’re not quite there when it comes to meeting our fiber requirements. We also have a piece of research from the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council which has shown that in a period of about 2 – 3 years our grain consumption has dropped by 30%, so if we take those tidbits of information together it would likely be that there’s a consequential drop in grain… and for us that’s a worry because as health professionals we know the given that there is a protective effect of grain fiber and by Australians eating less of their fiber from grains there maybe the possibility that their particular risk reduction is also being reduced.

P:   Can you recommend some easy ways that we can include fiber into our diet?

L:   Absolutely, we have quite an easy method here at Kellogg’s it’s all based on the dietary guidelines and also a balance of different fibers that occur in the food so there’s 3 different parts of fiber or 3 different main types of fiber – the soluble which are the ones that form a gel in the bowel and those that help to reduce cholesterol and balance sugar levels in the blood. There’s also the insoluble fibers which are the ones that help with regularity, help by increasing our stool bulk and then there’s the other fermentable fibers which help with increasing bacterial balance in the gut and producing short-chained fatty acids which are pretty protective. So in order to get that balance we have a simple rule, it’s 2 serves of whole fruits with the skin on, 5 serves of vegetables, 4 – 6 serves of grain preferably whole grain serves and a serve of nut seeds or legumes. That’s all people need to have every day to get that fiber balance and that’s pretty easy.

P:   Alright, so earlier you did mention sources of fiber like fruits and nuts but what are the best sources of fiber currently?

L:   Okay, so there’s lots of different sources of fiber. Generally the concentrated sources can be in loose powders of bran and husk but all bran is one of the top sources with 13 grams of fiber per bowl. Sultana Brans also got a very good fiber level as does cereals with psyllium husk like Kellogg’s Guardian which helps to stimulate cholesterol degradation in the liver and fruit and vegetables are great sources of fiber especially if you keep the skin on, also looking at some raw nuts, seeds, legumes and things like pulses, pulses which are things like lentils are also fantastic sources of fiber.

P:   What are the common misconceptions about high fiber diet that you often encounter with your clients or consumers?

L:   I think a lot of consumers are often worried that if they eat too much fiber they’ll get bloated but what they don’t realize is that fiber can actually help with bloating because of the improved intestinal transit and stool bulking which can relieve the symptoms of constipation. So we always say to our health professional colleagues to try fiber first before you go off onto the chemical management of constipation by choosing high fiber foods especially foods that are very high in insoluble fiber like All-Bran to show that these can often work. We’ve actually done some research which shows that the wheat bran fiber in our All-Bran fiber can actually relieve other symptoms of constipation in about 2 – 3 days. We also encourage people if they’re increasing their fiber intake to make sure that they keep their fluid intake up to ensure that they get the most out of the fiber they’re eating so if you’re going to increase your fluid intake we suggest you increase your water intake with that as well.

P:   Alright, now before we go ahead and end the segment what is your take away message for those listening to us today?

L:   Well for my perspective as a health professional, what I would like your listeners to take away from today is that grains are an important source of fiber and very, very protective against chronic disease and death. And so when health professionals are recommending that their patients get more fiber what to suggest is a balance of all different fibers not just from fruit and vegetables but from whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses too.

P:   Alright well it’s been a real pleasure talking to you today Gina.

L:   Thank you very much.

P:   You’re very welcome. Now you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Patrick Reyes and we’ve been in studio with Dr. Gina Levy the Senior Nutrition Manager ANZ at Kellogg’s. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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