Fibre: Aids Weight Loss, Prevents Constipation And Other Reasons You Should Have It Daily
Fibre is needed for several reasons. It fills you up quickly and can reduce your overall intake. It is also a beneficial nutrient for people with diabetes. Read here to know more.
Oats and whole grains are examples of foods rich in fibre
- 30-40 gm of fibre is needed every day
- Half of this fibre should come from fruits and vegetables
- A level of 40 g / 2000 Kcal of dietary fibre is considered safe
If we try to understand what dietary fibre is, it's simply the portion of food derived from plant cells and analogous carbohydrates which is resistant to digestion (hydrolysis) by the enzymes produced by the human small intestine, but which may undergo complete or partial fermentation in the human large intestine. They are of two types - Soluble and Insoluble. Both are indigestible but soluble fibre dissolves in water and insoluble fibre does not. One more term which we across in relation to fibre is Crude Fibre which is residue remaining after the treatment of food with sulphuric acid, alkali and alcohol and is mainly cellulose. Humans cant digest Cellulose but plays an important role as Fibre
The amount of dietary fibre recommended for a normal healthy adult id 30-40 g/day. About half of this dietary fibre should come from cereals and the other half from fruits and vegetables. The WHO committee on Chronic Degenerative Diseases (2003) has recommended a daily intake of 30 g fibre. A level of 40 g / 2000 Kcal of dietary fibre is generally considered a safe level of intake.
Fibre is considered to be a functional food. Let us discuss about few of its important roles in the body:
1. Dietary fibre has the ability to retain water and swell up. The swelling up of the soluble fibre increases the viscosity of the intestinal contents and slows down the passage of food through the stomach. As food stays longer in the stomach, there is a feeling of fullness or satiety when we eat a meal rich in soluble fibre. Hence it is very good for controlling weight, it prevents from overeating and at the same time does not contribute majorly to calorie intake
2. Some soluble fibre undergoes fermentation and produce short chain fatty acids like acetate, propionate and butyrate. Butyrate is the main substance for the growth and metabolism of mucosal cells. Fermented soluble fibre can provide 2 kcal/g of fibre
3. It increases the fecal bulk and contribute to soft stools and ease of defecation, the transit time of intestinal contents decreases in the colon and there is regular emptying of the bowel which prevents constipation.
4. Helps in providing relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gall stones, heamorrhoids, and diverticulitis
5. A soluble fibre rich diet helps in lowering blood pressure, blood Glucose and triglyceride level simply because fibre acts a physical barrier between food and enzymes.
Also it should be noted that as fibre absorb a lot of water, one should drink a lot of water along the intake of fibre rich diet, else will result in hard and dry stools. If proper quantity of water is not taken along with fibre intake, it can cause irritation in bowel and may lead to diarrhea.
Sources of Soluble Fibre: Fleshy part of fruits and vegetables, cereals and oats.
Sources of Insoluble Fibre: Bran or cereals, seed coat of legumes, seeds and peels of fruits and vegetables, stalks of green leafy vegetables.
Commercial Products: Psyllium Husk, Wheat Bran, Oat Bran
What should be included in diet? Bajra, Barley, Jowar, Maize- dry, Quinoa, Ragi, Wheat Flour, Grains & Legumes (specially whole), Drumstick and Drumstick leaves, Jackfruit, Dates, Gooseberry, Guava (white and pink flesh), Sapota, Curry leaves, Nuts and oilseeds, Oyster Mushrooms
(Vandita Jain is Delhi-based nutritionist and Diabetes educator)
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