What Is Dietary Fibre?


Dietary Fibre- fibre rich foodsWhen talking about fibre rich foods, it often invokes images of old-fashioned bran muffins, oat porridge and hard vegetables. Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and medicinal compounds receive more media attention these days. But foods high in fibre are as essential to health and quality of life today as they ever were for past generations. Digestion is balanced by them, immune function is boosted by them, and detoxification depends on them. Without an adequate intake of fibre rich foods, you are much more at risk of various diseases and digestive disorders.

What is Dietary Fibre?

If you want to know what dietary fibre is, imagine celery stalks and the long stringy fibres that run through them. This is pure roughage, the indigestible part of the vegetable that will past right through you after consumption, without being destroyed or absorbed. It is an essential part of the diet. When passing through the intestinal tract, toxins, metabolites, cholesterol and used-up hormones from the liver attach to the fibre and are eliminated along with the fibre from the body. Fibre helps to keep the digestive tract clean, and provides food for beneficial bacteria in the large and small intestine to feed off of and protect the body from disease.

Daily Fibre Requirement

To get the most out of your fibre, you need to be eating enough dietary fibre every single day. Researchers indicate that the daily diet should include 35g of fibre for men or 25g of fibre for women. To achieve this, consume foods high in fibre throughout the day and vary the types of fibre rich foods widely. For example, a diet with 4 servings of grains and cereals per day, 2 servings of legumes per day, and 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day would easily achieve the daily dietary fibre requirements for optimal health.

Different Types of Fibre

Size is not all that matters. While a diet high in fibre rich foods is good, it also matters what type of fibre you are having. Researchers have determined that some types of fibre behave differently than others. There are two main categories of fibre: insoluble fibre and water soluble fibre.

Insoluble fibre is the most common type, and is found in grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts in the form of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin. When it comes into contact with water, it stays separate and does not mix or dissolve.

Soluble fibre is less common, but has special health benefits for the body. Types of soluble fibre include mucilage, gum, and oligosaccharides. These are soluble with water and mix or partially dissolve, creating a gel. Many soluble fibres, especially those found in seaweeds, are used industrially and in food production as thickening agents.

While insoluble fibre provides roughage to aid gut motility and regularity, studies show that soluble fibre relieves irritation of the mucous membranes of the intestine, especially in conditions where inflammation of the digestive tract are a symptom, and may also benefit cardiovascular diseases.

During a clinical trial funded the University of Utrecht Medical Centre in 2009, researchers found that volunteers suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) given soluble fibre, in the form of psyllium hulls, experienced a significant improvement in symptoms. In volunteers given insoluble fibre, in the form of bran, symptoms of IBS worsened significantly.

 Foods High in Fibre/ Fibre Rich Foods

Insoluble fibre:

– Carrots

– Pumpkins

– Parsnips

– Potatoes

– Sweet potatoes

– Green leafy vegetables

– Celery

– Grains

– Nuts

– Bran

– Fruits

– Apples and pears

– Rice

Soluble fibre:

– Psyllium hulls

– Linseed

– Seaweed

– Slippery elm

– Chia seeds

– Mushrooms

– Marshmallow root

– Aloe vera

Health Benefits

Foods high in fibre do not just protect the body from disease, but also treat disease. Various studies have shown fibre rich foods to have therapeutic benefits in patients suffering from IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, diarrhea, and cardiovascular disease. In 2012 the Complutense University of Madrid published a meta-analysis study on the effects of dietary fibre on cardiovascular health, showing that a diet high in both soluble and insoluble fibre helps to decrease blood pressure, serum triglycerides, and cholesterol, while also increasing protective antioxidants in the body. A meta-analysis study is the gold standard of research, giving near definite proof that a high fibre diet is a useful, natural, drug-free approach to supporting heart health and longevity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *