A balanced diet containing all types of nutrients is essential for every person, irrespective of his/her age and physical condition. Dietary fibre is a critical component of our daily diet, helping keep our digestive system healthy. Unlike other nutrients, it does not break down and get absorbed by our body cells. Thus, it passes down the digestive tract to the colon and rectum, increasing the bulk of excretory products moving out of our body.
The daily requirement of fibres for an adult man below the age of 50 is 38 gm, while an older man needs only 30 gm fibres per day. The recommended daily intake of fibre for a woman below the age of 50 is 25 gm, while an older woman needs to have 21 gm of fibres every day. Thus, you need to eat sufficient amounts of whole grain cereals, nuts, fresh vegetables, and fruits that are rich in fibre content.
Different types of dietary fibre:
- Insoluble fibre: Cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses are the fibres that do not dissolve in water or any other liquid. Hence, these fibres are called insoluble and are needed for increasing the bulk amount of stool. Generally, wholegrain cereals, nuts, wheat bran, rice bran, beans, potatoes, cauliflower, skins of some vegetables and fruits are the best sources of insoluble fibre. So doctors prescribe these foods to patients suffering from constipation and other digestive problems.
- Soluble fibre: Some fibres, like pectin, mucilage, and gums, are water-soluble and form a thick gel-like substance when added to water. Doctors recommend the consumption of these fibres for lowering the levels of blood sugar and bad cholesterol (LDL). Flaxseed, barley, lentils, psyllium husk, dry beans, peas, oat bran, soybean, and some fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of this type of fibre.
Which are the common foods rich in fibre ?
- Beans and other legumes and lentils
- Broccoli, carrot, beets
- Whole Grains. Like brown rice, millets , wheat bran , oats …
- Apples., banana, avocado , guavas , berries …
- Dried Fruits, seeds and nuts
What are the benefits of a high fibre diet?
- Easier bowel movements: The presence of dietary fibre softens the bulk of the stool so that the solid excretory products can easily pass out of the body. Fibres also absorb excess water from the stool and also increase the bulk amount of stool.
- Healthy digestive system: The intake of fibre-rich foods can help patients suffering from constipation. Ailments, like haemorrhoids, colorectal cancer, and diverticular disease, can be prevented by including fibre in your daily diet.
- Reduces bad cholesterol – Foods rich in fibre can lower the level of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. Usually, flaxseed, oats, and beans contain soluble fibres that are effective in this regard.
- Optimizes glucose level – Diabetic patients can reduce their high blood sugar levels by including large amounts of soluble fibre in their daily diet. These fibres can retard the absorption of glucose in the blood cells, resulting in low blood sugar levels in the body.
- Helps in weight loss – Dieticians recommend the intake of fibre-rich foods for reducing the excess body weight of obese patients. Fibre satiates their appetite and keep them full for a longer time. Thus, they can control the intake of foods for faster weight loss. Moreover, most of these fibre-rich foods have very low-calorie content.
- Increases the life span – The intake of dietary fibre is directly linked with decrease in risks related to diseases, like cancer and coronary heart disease . Thus, you may expect a longer life by eating more fibre-rich foods every day.
Signs that show that your diet contains low dietary fibre
There are certain symptoms that you may experience regarding your health if you do not eat enough fibre-rich foods regularly. You should start having such foods immediately if you suffer from any of the following symptoms.
- Constipation: Very hard stool and infrequent bowel movements are the primary symptoms of severe constipation. If you are suffering from this problem, it means your meals lack a sufficient amount of fibre.
- Overweight : If your appetite is not satisfied easily, it indicates the absence of fibre in your foods. Therefore, you keep on eating and yet do not feel fulfilled, leading to a rapid increase in your body weight.
- Fatigue : The continuous lack of fibre in your food can make you easily tired even after doing only a little bit of work.
- Increase in blood sugar: The unusual fluctuation in your blood sugar level can be another warning that says that you are neglecting the proper intake of fibre-rich foods. This symptom becomes more evident for diabetic patients, and they find it tougher to keep their glucose levels in control without eating fibre.
Disorders associated with low dietary fibre
- Digestive problems, like constipation and irregular bowel movements, can disrupt your normal health due to the absence of fibre in your meals. Acute constipation can result in bloating and pain in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Diarrhoea or loose motion is another disorder that you may suffer from due to the lack of enough fibre in your daily diet. If there is no fibre in your food, the excess liquid formed in the digestive tract will not be absorbed, leading to this disorder.
- Diverticulosis or the formation of small pouches on the intestinal walls is another serious ailment that can result due to the lack of fibre in your diet. It is a rare disease that is still incurable, and you can prevent it by adding dietary fibre daily.
- Colon cancer is also linked to irregular bowel movements and constipation. Thus, you can avert it by including fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, and cereals in your daily diet.
- Most fibre-rich foods contain antioxidants that can fight inflammation in the body. Thus, it will be difficult to cure inflammation caused by several ailments if we do not consume enough fibre.
- Obesity is another physical disorder credited to the deficiency of fibre in everyday meals. These fibre-rich foods do not add calories and fat to our body while fulfilling our appetites, without which we tend to grow overweight.
The daily intake of fibre can help in averting various health issues, You may consult your doctor to decide the amount of fibre-rich foods to be included in your regular meals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How to increase dietary fibre in our daily diet?
It is best to include at least two different types of vegetables in your meal, including a green leafy vegetable. You should also have any tasty fibrous fruit in your diet to ensure the intake of sufficient fibres.
- Which fibre-rich food can we have for breakfast?
Oats, apples, berries, and yoghurt are the healthiest food items that you can have on your breakfast plate, to start the day with a sufficient quantity of fibre.
- Do we need to eat dark-coloured foods for more fibres?
Some dark-shaded vegetables like broccoli, beets, and carrots have high fibre content. Artichoke is also a rich source of fibre.