Dietary Fibre-A Must for Today's Diet
Dietary fibre is no newcomer to the human palate.
It's been around since ancient times when
civilizations were based on agriculture rather than
industry. At one time, the average diet included
more raw foods and vegetables and adequate fibre was
easy to obtain. But times have changed. Now you live
in a complex society and for the most part, your
diet has also changed eliminating much of the
important fibre from the diet. It is difficult to
eat a variety of foods and receive the amounts of
fibre we need.
fibre is often divided into two general groups: the
soluble fibres (pectins, gums, and mucilages) and
the insoluble fibres (cellulose, hemicellulose, and
lignin). Soluble fibres, found in fruits, legumes,
and some grains, usually dissolve in water to form a
gel. This gel slows the rate at which food leaves
the stomach and the rate at which it moves through
the intestines. Soluble fibre also appears to play a
role in regulating blood cholesterol and sugar
levels. The latter may be useful in certain clinical
conditions like diabetes, by helping to regulate the
amount of sugar in the blood.
In contrast, insoluble fibre found in all plant and
cereal foods, does not readily dissolve in water.
Instead, it tends to absorb water and increase bulk,
which speeds up the rate at which food passes
through the digestive tract. It can also make the
contents of the bowel bulkier and softer and
therefore easier to pass. This has important
implications in helping to prevent constipation and
diverticulitis - a painful and often serious disease
of the colon.
With today's emphasis on fast and highly processed
foods, your diet may be lower in the dietary fibre
complexes you need. Obviously, the best way for you
to obtain fibre is to eat more of it from a wide
variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet. Fresh
fruits, cereals, and whole grain breads are part of
the solution. Lentils, peas, and beans are not only
high in fibre but also contain significant amounts
of protein. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits make
excellent high fibre snacks. Yet, many of us - for
one reason or another - fail to provide our bodies
with enough fibre.