WHAT IS FIBRE?
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.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
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 &
HOW DOES IT HELP?
The purpose of fibre is to pass through our
digestive system mostly unchanged and unabsorbed. But in the process it...
- softens the stools so that they pass more
- acts as a sponge, taking up fluid and
softening the bowel contents
- helps us feel fuller, reduces the amount of
energy absorbed from our food and slows down the rate at which energy is
- assists the action of beneficial bacteria in
- it tends to induce weight-loss as part of a
HOW TO INCREASE FIBRE IN OUR DAILY DIET?
Don't just increase the amount of Fibre in your
- 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 neednt be fattening if you dont
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 dont 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.
HOW DOES IT BENEFIT US?
Fibre helps in the following ways
- It helps prevent constipation
- It can avoid strain being put on the
- It assists in the treatment of: diverticular
disease, gallstones appendicitis, hiatus hernia and varicose veins
Fibre content (grams) per average serving
|High bran cereal
|Figs (dried & raw)
|Boiled, peeled potatoes