Dietary Fibre-A Must for Today's Diet   

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.

Dietary 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.

Happy reading,

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