Fibre and Health


Fibre is the 'scaffolding' that supports a plant. The food content of plants is enclosed within its cells: fibre is contained in the cell walls and is found in other structural parts of the plant.

Dietary fibre is the medical term for Roughage, a lot of which is not 'rough' at all- for example tomatoes, strawberries and many other vegetables and fruits.


Fibre does a lot more than provide ‘roughage’ to prevent constipation. Lack of fibre seems to be connected with various disorders of the bowel, including piles and a serious inflammation called diverticulitis. There is reason to believe that lack of fibre may lead to diabetes and even heart disease. Fibre slows down digestion. Soluble fibre, such as that in beans and lentils controls blood sugar more effectively than insoluble fibre and may also lower blood cholesterol if high. Insoluble fibre such as wheat bran soaks up water thus providing bulk, which causes waste to be passed more quickly through the gut and also gives the feeling of being full. Eating more fibre may actually help you stay slim. Food with plenty of fibre like potatoes and bread can be satisfying without giving you too many calories.

Modern food processing usually removes this fibre, so we tend to have less of it in our diets than our parents & grandparents did.


The purpose of fibre is to pass through our digestive system mostly unchanged and unabsorbed. But in the process it...

  1. softens the stools so that they pass more easily
  2. acts as a sponge, taking up fluid and softening the bowel contents
  3. helps us feel fuller, reduces the amount of energy absorbed from our food and slows down the rate at which energy is absorbed
  4. assists the action of beneficial bacteria in the bowel.
  5. it tends to induce weight-loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet


Don't just increase the amount of Fibre in your diet...

  • Eat more Roti/bread especially wholemeal bread. Roti/Bread gives you fibre and nutrients without concentrated calories.
  • Eat more potatoes (with skin). Both roti/bread and potatoes are excellent ‘fillers’ and needn’t be fattening if you don’t load them with butter or fry them in fat.
  • Eat a high-fibre cereal for breakfast. (But go easy on the sugar). The more bran a cereal contains, the higher its fibre content.
  • Try more meals based on beans, peas, lentils and other pulses, using meat more sparingly.
  • Eat more vegetables. Vegetables, particularly the green leafy ones, are high in fibre. But don’t overcook them or you will lose a lot of their goodness. Just cook enough to soften.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and salads. Even the softer fruits, like melons or oranges, contain fibre. Fruits and vegetables because of their water content, are low in calories and can help you stay slim.
  • Make room for all this good food by cutting down on sugary and fatty things like biscuits, sweets and crisps, especially between meals.
  • reduce your intake of processed foods, fats, sugar and white flour (maida) products
  • drink plenty of fluids throughout the day
  • eat more fresh, vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts (not roasted/salted),seeds and wholegrain products.


Fibre helps in the following ways

  1. It helps prevent constipation
  2. It can avoid strain being put on the digestive system
  3. It assists in the treatment of: diverticular disease, gallstones appendicitis, hiatus hernia and varicose veins


Fibre content (grams) per average serving

Whole pasta 9.6
High bran cereal 8.0
Spinach 6.3
Baked beans 5.4
Bananas 5.1
Wholemeal bread 4.3
Fresh peas 3.9
Corn flakes 3.3
Figs (dried & raw) 2.3
Museli 2.2
Oranges 2.0
Apple 1.5
Boiled, peeled potatoes 1.0
Tomatoes (raw) 0.8