Benefits Of Fibre


...From its effects on weight loss to digestive and heart health, and much more

Just as a blockbuster film usually has 3 main characters and 1 supporting actor, similarly our diet should consist of 3 major nutrients—carbohydrates + protein + fat—and our support, fibre in order to stay fit and live longer. Fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate, the indigestible part of a plant that is part of whole grains (carbs), legumes (protein) and nuts, and mainly found in fruits and vegetables.

Daily requirement

About 40gms per day for adults. When consumed more than 60gm/day, it can affect nutrient absorption.

Types of fibre

a. Soluble fibre: Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance. It is helpful in reduction of cholesterol and control of blood sugar levels. Found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, oats, barely.

b. Insoluble fibre: Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools by absorbing water. Found in wheat bran, whole grain cereal, nuts, seed, fruit, vegetable skin.

c. Resistant starch: Resistant starch is found in certain foods when they are heated or cooled It cannot be digested in the small intestine, hence moves to the large intestine where it helps in production of good bacteria which helps to keep our gut healthy. Examples include cooked and cooled potatoes, under-ripe bananas.

Benefits of fibre

> Satiety and weight loss: Fibre gives you satiety and increases the intestinal emptying time, Hence you feel full for a longer time. which may help in maintaining a healthy weight and even losing weight. Studies have shown that viscous fibre, found mainly in plant foods, gives more satiety. Fibre has less calories and also helps in reducing hunger which may help in weight reduction—however more studies are required to prove this. Fibre supplementation in obese individuals has been doumented to help in weight loss.

> Good for heart health: Studies have shown that dietary fibre helps to bind with cholesterol and helps in excretion of cholesterol in bile. It helps to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Research has shown that fibre helps with reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorder.

> Great for digestive health: Eating enough fibre a day will add bulk to stools, regularise bowel movements and help prevent constipation. As mentioned earlier soluble fibre and resistant starch act as a prebiotic, supporting growth of good bacteria that keeps our gut healthy and enhances immune function.

> Blood sugar control: Studies show that soluble fibre helps reduce blood sugar by slowing down the process of absorption of carbohydrates from the gut and improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.

> May prevent colon cancer: There has been an association of increased intake of fibre and reduction in risk of colorectal cancer. But experts have been doing more in depth research to know the exact relationship. Fibre-rich foods usually contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that are known to reduce risk of certain cancers.

> New studies have been underway, a study done in March 2012 published in the Metabolism Journal explored the role of dietary fibre in immunomodulation, i.e it may help prevent infection, facilitate many biological processes and may help improve mood and memory.

Simple ways to incorporate fibre in your diet...

1. Add Oat bran in your chapati flour/ in your bread. 100gms of oat bran has 15gms of fibre. Or include more whole grain in your diet. For example wheat 1.2 gm of fibre/100 gms, ragi has 3.6gm/100gms.

2. Add a bowl of freshly cut salad/fruit or cooked vegetables with your meal. For example 100gms of carrot has 4.4gm of fibre, 100gms of okra has about 3.2gms. Include  lentils/legumes in one meal of your day—make it in the form of dal or lentil soup or just cooked beans with veggies For example, whole green gram 3.9gm/100gms, kidney beans 6.5gm/100gms. Have fruits with the skin but ensure they are washed well. 

3. A combination of fruit and nuts can be a great snack, instead of chips or fried foods. For example, guava has 5.2gm/100gms, apple has 2.2gm/100gm, 25 almonds (30gms) = 2.6gm.

While fibre is an important part of our daily routine, overconsuming this food group can cause bloating and flatulence. People with irritable bowel syndrome, gas and acidity should consult a nutritionist or a doctor to understand the amount that needs to be consumed.

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