Dietary fibre is the most complex form of carbohydrate present in all plant foods. It is indigestible and provides bulk and stimulation for the intestines and helps prevent many chronic illnesses. Based on the solubility in water, it can be classified into Soluble dietary fibre (SDF) and Insoluble fibre (IDF). Read below to understand the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre and its various health advantages.
It is the edible portion of the plant foods, which is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestines. While passing through the large intestines (colon), partial or total fermentation occurs due to the action of colonic bacteria. Soluble fibre is gummy and is primarily found in the pulp of fruits, legumes, greens, etc. The Advantages Of Soluble Fibre are as follows:
- Lowers total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) therefore reducing the risk of heart disease
- Regulates blood sugar levels for those suffering from diabetes
It is made up of the structural material of the cell walls. It adds bulk to the stool, softens the stool and increases the transit time through the intestinal tract. It also controls and balances the pH (acidity) in the intestines. Insoluble fibre is crunchy and is found in skins of various fruits, celery, bran, etc. Advantages of insoluble fibre are:
- Promotes regular bowel movement and prevents constipation
- Remove toxic waste from the intestines in less time
- Prevents microbes from producing cancerous substances
Health Effects Of Fibre
Listed below are some health effects of Dietary fibre:
Reduces Type 2 Diabetes: Soluble dietary fibre is effective in reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Low glycemic index foods have attracted attention in terms of prevention and treatment of diabetes. Foods high in soluble fibre (present in oats, barley, fruits and legumes) improve postprandial glucose levels, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Recovery of Heart Diseases: Dietary fibre is known to be associated with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease (CAD). The mechanism of its action is attributed to its binding to bile salts and preventing its reabsorption and in reducing the lipid levels.
Reduced Risk of Cancer: Recent research findings say that total dietary fibre intake is not associated with cancer risk, whereas whole grain consumption is associated with modestly reduced risk.
For Weight Loss: Consumption of dietary fibre is associated with increased satiety and hence is an essential component of weight-loss diets. High fibre balanced diets, including whole grains, whole pulses, wheat bran, oats and leafy vegetables, etc play an important role in weight loss. Fibre is also a mechanical irritant for the GI tract and in therapeutic diets concerning GIT disorders (Diarrhoea, etc.).
What are Food Sources?
- Food sources of soluble fibre include oats, nuts, peas, barley, fruits such as oranges and apple, vegetables such as carrots, psyllium husk, etc.
- Food sources of insoluble fibre include green leafy vegetables, fruit skins and root vegetables skins, whole-wheat products, etc.
What Is The Recommended Intake?
The suggested intake of total dietary fibre (TDF) is 25-40 gm/day or 12-14 gms TDF/1000 Kcal/day for healthy adults. No guidelines have been established for very elderly or very ill people. In febrile disorders and acute GI problems like diarrhoea, etc., the intake of fibre is restricted to avoid intestinal irritation.
Points to keep in mind
- Select high fibre breakfast cereals made with whole grains, e.g. plain white oats and wheat flakes
- Instead of having juices, have cut fruits.
- Eat fruit as a snack (skin and pulp). Add a few pieces of fruits to the breakfast.
- Select whole-grain breads instead of white bread, nan and kulchas.
- Add extra bran to the wheat flour.
- Have salad along with all the meals with some beans/sprouts added to it.
- Add green leafy vegetables to the chapatti dough, salads, soups etc.
With inputs from Nutritionist Kavita Rastogi, Founder - Nutriremedy
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