HEALTH RISKS OF A LOW FIBRE FOODS DIET
Dietary fibre is also known as roughage, and is the indigestible aspect of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains that passes through the intestinal tract. Fibre provides nourishment for beneficial microorganisms in the gut known as probiotics, and keep the bowel moving regularly and cleanly. Without good fibre foods, you may experience constipation, skin eruptions, fatigue, immune problems, and an increased risk of many degenerative diseases.
Dangerous Low Fibre Foods
Western countries are notorious for their “modern” diets, which contain mostly low fibre foods that can contribute to colon cancer, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. White bread, pasta, meat, cakes, biscuits, crackers and many cereals contain very little digestive fibre, and are often lacking in other basic nutrients as well. While low fibre foods have historically not received much attention for contributing to deadly diseases, as much as perhaps sugar or cholesterol have, but today scientists around the world are confirming inadequate dietary fibre may be one of the leading causes of many degenerative diseases.
Fibre not only keeps the gut working fast and clean, but also protects it against various types of cancerous changes. New research linking low fibre foods with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer was published in 2012. As part of an ongoing multi centre study funded by the Imperial College London in the UK, over 500,000 volunteers were followed over an 11 year period. People with a dietary intake of fibre less than 10g per day were found to be at much greater risk of colorectal cancers, with cereal fibres playing possibly the most important role in protecting against disease.
Eating good fibre foods each day doesn’t just affect your digestion. Good amounts of fibre help to clear the body of unwanted cholesterol, triglycerides, balance blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, and eliminate toxins. When your diet is primarily made up of low fibre foods, then these unhealthy fats and toxins simply continue to circulate and build, contributing to high blood triglycerides and total cholesterol levels. In one review of research by the Complutense University of Madrid in 2012, researchers confirmed the positive effects that a diet high in fibre had on human cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and antioxidant profile. Foods with fibre, as well as good fibre supplements, will protect your heart and your arteries from degenerative diseases.
Emotional and Mental Health
If you are experiencing increased stress or low moods, low fibre foods may be influencing your emotions. Researchers are aware of a phenomenon known as the “gut-brain axis” – a connection between the mind and the digestive system that goes all the way back to the womb, where as a foetus the digestive system and the nervous system were produced from the same dividing cells. While research into the gut-brain axis is still in its infancy, several clinical studies have already linked the eating of foods with fibre to changes in emotions and mood. In a study funded by Cardiff University in 2002, researchers found that people who ate good fibre foods also experienced more emotional and mental well-being than those who ate a low-fibre diet.
What you eat plays an important part in how well your immune system reacts to pathogens and allergens. Low fibre foods contribute to a poor cultures of “good bacteria” in the digestive system.
According to a review of research published by the Scientific National Research Council (CSIC) of Spain in 2010, many types of fibre, such as inulin, act as prebiotics in the gut, giving food to beneficial microorganisms that give a first line of defence against pathogens. Not only do probiotic bacteria offer direct protection against viruses and fungal infection, but stimulate an enhanced immune response throughout the body, balance allergic reactions, and improve overall digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
If you are not used to high fibre foods, it may take some getting used to. Build up slowly, and allow your digestive system time to adjust and process the increased amounts of roughage. If you add in fibre too quickly, it may be a bit of a shock to the system and cause fermentation, flatulence and bloating! If you have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis or any other type of intestinal disease, it is important to speak with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist first, as some types of fibre may not be safe for you to ingest. Low fibre diet health risks probably outweigh the risks of too much fibre, but remember to take it slow and easy and give your body time to adjust.