Why fibre? Fibre is that part of the food that remains undigested and gets removed from the gastrointestinal tract. So, one might wonder about the necessity of consuming fibre if it is going to be discarded anyway. This article attempts to explain why fibre is a much needed dietary component. There are two main groups of fibre- Soluble and Insoluble, both derivatives of plants and plant extracts. As the names suggest, soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel which essentially helps in optimising digestive health in addition to weight loss, keeping blood sugars under control and reducing cholesterol. Insoluble fibre is not absorbed by the gut and thus helps in preventing constipation and other bowel conditions.
A very common bowel condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS with symptoms of bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea or constipation or alternating between both, can easily be managed by keeping a food diary. For those who have predominant diarrhoea cutting down on insoluble fibre will improve their symptoms and those with constipation increasing the amount of soluble fibre in diet will return normalcy of the gut.
Examples of foods containing soluble fibre, include:
- Root Vegetables
Examples of foods containing insoluble fibre, include:
- Wholegrain Bread
- Nuts and Seeds.
Consuming fibre reduces cholesterol and triglycerides, the major precursors to heart disease. Consuming adequate amounts of fibre will protect and aid in protecting cardiovascular health.
Eating adequate amounts of fibre helps in weight loss. Essentially, fibre keeps one fuller for longer periods of time and helps us avoid the urge to snack at odd times or on unhealthy foods. A brilliant cheat to eating well and maintaining our weight!
Do you really get enough fibre?
An adult woman requires 25 grams of dietary fibre a day and a man, 38 grams. If you think a few bites of salad is going to supply that, you’re mistaken! Think of 200 grams of apples, 600 grams of whole grain pasta, about 150 grams of oat bran and so on. We think a small portion of salad is enough, but reality is, we aren’t getting as much fibre in that amount as we need. So, start calculating how much fibre you need, how much you’re getting from your diet, and find foods to make up the shortfall. You’ll feel so much better![/box]
Fibre when consumed along with adequate amount of water causes regular bowel action keeping the colon healthy and in turn preventing constipation, haemorrhoids (piles) and conditions like diverticulosis, which is inflammation of the bowel lining, a condition common in those who consume less fibre and more processed food.
Studies have shown that a good and regular amount of fibre intake protects us against colon cancer, the incidence of which is relatively high, largely due to diet and lifestyle.
My personal favourite. Studies have shown that having an adequate amount of fibre keeps blood sugar under control, working wonders for diabetics. Fibre offers a natural way of ensuring sugar control along with the medication and lifestyle changes an individual makes!
Once you consume adequate amounts your weighing scale will tell you the truth. I wish I could change the adage, ‘The proof is in the fibre!’
Do we need any more reasons to consume fibre?
A word of caution- If you have been negligent in your consumption of fibre so far and are now motivated to change this, begin at a slow pace over a few days to weeks as some people do experience abdominal cramps, bloating and discomfort.
- Children over the age of ten need about 10-15 grams of fibre per day.
- Adult women need 25 grams and men, 38 grams of fibre per day.
- On average all lentils and types of beans will give upto 15 grams of fibre approximately.
- Vegetables are a great source of fibre, some more than others like carrots, beetroot, spinach, peas, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes with skin.
- Include some fibre-rich foods everyday on your plate in a reasonable amount and not just a couple of spoons to ensure a good fibre intake and better health.
List of foods (grams of fibre) per 100 grams of the product is as follows
|Grain||Wheat Bran, crude||43 grams|
|Grain||Pearl Barley||16 grams|
|Grain||Oat Bran||15 grams|
|Grain||Brown rice||4 grams|
|Grain||White rice||2 grams|
|Grain||Wheat flour||2 grams|
|Grain||Pastas||2-4 grams based on white or whole meal|
|Lentils & Legumes||Raw lentils||30 grams|
|Lentils & Legumes||Red Kidney beans||25 grams|
|Lentils & Legumes||Soy beans||18 grams|
|Lentils & Legumes||Chick Peas||17 grams|
|Lentils & Legumes||Mung beans||16 grams|