Importance of Dietary Fibre
Fiber is the indigestible carbohydrate and it helps us to be health. It prevents constipation, it can lower cholesterol levels and can also prevent cancer. Fiber was processes out of most food grains like bread and cereal. Everyone should take 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day.
Fibre forms the skeletal system of plants. Without it no plant or tree would be able to stand upright. Dietary fibre consists of those parts of the plant foods that cannot be digested by enzymes or other digestive secretions in the ailmentary canal.Dietary fibre plays an important role in the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases.Dietary fiber consists of two kinds of fiber: water soluble fiber (meaning it dissolves in water) and water insoluble fiber (meaning it does not dissolve in water).
Sufficient intake of fibre-rich diet may help prevent obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis and diabetic conditions.
Fibre in the diet promotes more frequent bowel movements and softer stools having increased weight. The softness of stools is largely due to the presence of emulsified gas which is produced by the bacterial action on the fibre.A high fibre intake results in greater efficiency in the peristaltic movement of the colon.This helps in relieving the constipation which is the main cause of several acute and chronic diseases.
Increasing the dietary fibre intake may be beneficial for patients with irritated bowel syndrome who have diarrhoea and rapid colonic transit and those who have constipation and slow transit. The high fibre diet like bran, regulates the condition inside the colon so as to avoid both extremes - constipation and diarrhoea.
Several potential carcinogens are produced in the faeces. Their production is related to the acidity of the gut content. The greater the acidity in the bowel content, the less is the production of these carcinogens.The breaking down of the fibre by bacteria renders the faeces more acidic. This reduces the amount of possible carcinogenic substances.
Fibre also reduces the possibility of formation of harmful toxins in the large intestine by reducing the intestinal transit time of the food contents.
Dietary fibre increases the bacteria in the large intestines which require nitrogen for their growth.This in turn reduces the chances of cancerous changes in cells by reducing the amount of ammonia in the large bowel.
Fibre reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the diet. It also slows down the rate of absorption of sugars from the food in the digestive system. Certain types of fibre increase the viscosity of the food content. This increased viscosity indirectly reduces the need for insulin secreted by the pancreas. Thus a fibre-rich diet can help in diabetes mollitus
Sources of Fibre
The following foods are especially good sources of soluble fiber, which may be helpful in lowering cholesterol.
Dried beans, cooked.
The following foods are especially good sources of insoluble fiber, which may protect against constipation and colon cancer.
wheat, rice, barley, rye, millets ; legumes such as potato, carrots, beet , turnip and sweet potato ;fruits like mango and guava and leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce and celery.
The percentage of fibre content per 100 gms. of some foods are : bran 10.5-13.5, whole grain cereals 1.0-2.0, nuts 2.0-5.0, legumes 1.5-1.7, vegetables 0.5-1.5, fresh fruits 0.5-1.5, and dried fruits 1.0-3.0. The foods which are completely devoid of fibre are meat, fish , eggs, milk, cheese, fats and sugars.
Bran which is the outer coverings of grains, is one of the richest sources of dietary fibre. And it contains several types of fibre including cellulose, hermicellulose and pectin. Wheat and corn bran are highly beneficial in relieving constipation. Experiments show that oat bran can reduce cholesterol levels substantially. Corn bran is considered more versatile. It relieves constipation and also lowers LDL cholesterol which is one of the more harmful kinds.
It can also prevent diseases like piles, constipation, bowel cancer, varicose veins and even coronary thrombosis. The rural Africans who eat bulk of fibrous foods rarely suffer from any of these diseases.
Legumes have high fibre content. Much of this fibre is water soluble which makes legumes likely agents for lowering cholesterol. Soyabeans can also help control glucose levels.
The types of fibre contained in vegetables and fruits contribute greatly towards good health. The vegetables with the biggest fibre ratings include sweet corn, carrots, potatoes, parsnips and peas. And among the high ranking fruits are raspberries, pears, strawberries and guavas.
Types of Fibres
There are six classes of fibre. They are
They differ in physical properties and chemical interactions, except legnin are poly-saceharides.
: It is the most prevalent fibre. It is fibrous and softens the stool. It abounds in fruits,vegetables, bran, whole-meal bread and beans. It is also present in nuts and seeds. It increases the bulk of intestinal waste and eases it quickly through the colon. Investigations indicate that these actions may dilute and flush cancer-causing toxins out of the intestinal tract. They also suggest that cellulose may help level out glucose in the blood and curb weight gain.
: It is usually present wherever cellulose is and shares some of its traits. It helps relieve constipation, waters down carcinogens in the bowel and aids in weight reduction. Both cellulose and hemicellulose undergo some bacterial breakdown in the large intestine and this produces gas.
: This form of fibre is highly beneficial in reducing serum cholesterol levels.It does not have influence on the stool and does nothing to prevent constipation. Researchs are being conducted to ascertain if pectin can help eliminate bile acids through the intestinal tract thereby preventing gallstones and colon cancer. It is found in apples, grapes, berries, citrus fruits, guava, raw papaya and bran.
Gums and Mucilages
: They are the sticky fibres found in dried beans, oat bran and oatmeal.They are useful in the dietary control of diabetes and cholesterol.
: The main function of legnin is to escort bile acid and cholesterol out of the intestines.There is some evidence that it may prevent the formation of gallstones. It is contained in cereals,bran, whole meal flour, raspberries, strawberries, cab- bage, spinach, parsley and tomatoes.
The intake of sugar, refined cereals, meat, eggs and dairy products should be reduced. Candies, pastries, cakes which are rich in both sugar and fat,should be taken sparingly.
There are divergent views as to the requirement of dietary fibre for good health. There is no recommended daily dietary allowance for it and any data about optimum amounts. Normally, a fibre intake of 30 grams per day is sufficient for good health.
Excessive consumption of fibre especially bran should be avoided. Due to its content of crude fibre, bran is relatively harsh and it may irritate the delicate functioning of the digestive system, especially in the sick and the weak.
Excessive use of fibre may also result in loss of valuable minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium from the body through excretion due to quick passage of food from the intestine.