A little fibre in your daily diet can make a big difference to your health.Changes in lifestyle have led to changes in food habits. A diet rich in animal products, refined cereals and low in fibre is common. The outlook about fibre has changed after research has shown that a low fibre diet may contribute to diseases starting from constipation, colon cancer, coronary diseases, diabetes and obesity to colitis. This is the reason why doctors, dieticians and nutrition experts strongly advise you to include fibre-rich food in your diet.Dietary fibre is the undigested plant residue that represents the outer coating or plant wall material. It is also known as roughage. The major classes of dietary fibre are soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and become sticky. Gums, pectins, mucilages, B glucans and some hemicelluloses are of this category. Food rich in soluble fibres are fenugreek, lentils, legumes, barley, oatmeal, flax, bananas, apples, ladies finger, plums and citrus fruits. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve, passing through the digestive tract largely unchanged. It is found in wheat bran, whole-wheat products, skin of fruits and vegetables, brown rice and peas. So, a quality diet should include plenty of these soluble and insoluble fibre rich foods.Fibre is essential to maintain a healthy digestive tract. It increases the solidification and softening of faeces and facilitates its quick passage through the intestine, thereby reducing the risk of constipation and relieving the symptoms of diverticulosis and haemorrhoids. Studies have also proved that fibre in the diet protects against cancer of the colon by causing the stools to pass quickly, thus reducing contact with cancer-causing agents.Consumption of fibre rich foods lowers the levels of serum cholesterol, which is related to the risk of coronary diseases. Many studies also stressed that, for every gram of soluble fibre you add to your diet, you can expect a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol of 2.2mg/dl. Soluble fibre in the diet helps reduce the blood glucose level thus beneficial to people with diabetes. Because it is filling and low in calories, eating fibre rich food is helpful when you are trying to lose or control your weight.
DrawbacksAdding too much fibre too quickly in the diet may cause intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and other digestive problems. Excessive fibre in the diet may prevent the digestive system from absorbing certain minerals especially calcium, iron and zinc.It does not matter whether the fibre food is mashed, chopped, raw or ripe. They retain the nutritive value in all these stages. So make fibre-rich diet part of your lifestyle and stay healthy.Leena Leon