Usefulness of fibre-rich foods

Fibre is the indigestible part of food derived from plants. There are two types of dietary fibres- soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water). The soluble fibre absorbs water as it passes through the intestines and becomes like Jelly while the insoluble remains unchanged. Both soluble and insoluble fibres are present in all plant foods but in different proportions. Recommended daily dose for adults is 25g/ day for women and 38g/day for men.

Fibre – rich foods include – fruits (apple, banana, orange, grape fruits, pear, plum, blackberries, plantain); whole-grain cereals (oat meal, cornflakes); whole grain bread; various types of beans and vegetables (carrot, broccoli, bitter leaf and other Nigerian leaves for making soup).
All of them contain soluble and insoluble fibres.
1. Fibre prevents constipation and piles.
Fibre adds bulk to stool, making bowel movement easier. Insoluble fibre does this better. When plenty of fibre is consumed, the stool is large and soft, this stimulates the muscles of the intestines to contract, pushing out the stool (faeces) without the individual straining himself. With little fibre in the food, the stool is usually small and hard and therefore requires force to come out. Regular straining during the passage of faeces can lead to piles (haemorrhoids) and other conditions such as pouches (diverticulosis) in the large intestines. Piles can lead to anaemia due to bleeding.
2. Fibre Prevents Obesity.
Eating fibre – rich foods helps in weight control and therefore prevents obesity. Fibre-rich foods are bulky and fill the stomach easily and there is therefore the feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
3. Fibre decreases risk of cancer.
Many studies in last three decades have shown a link between increased fibre in-take and a decrease in colon cancer. This could be due to the fibre itself or the nutrients that are usually in fibre-rich foods such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and essential fatty acid. There are many fibre supplements in the market but it is not advisable that they be relied on solely for fibres owing to the reason stated above.
Eat fibre – rich foods instead of depending on the supplements.
4. Fibre helps in the treatment of Diabetes.
Soluble fibres when consumed in large quantity slow down the absorption the glucose from the small intestines and so help to reduce the blood sugar level. Consequently, fibres help in the treatment of diabetes. It is said that adults whose main diet is low in fibre are more likely to develop diabetes than those with high fibre diet.
5. Fibre Reduces Risk of Heart Disease.
High intake of soluble fibre reduces absorption of cholesterol and bile acid (which are also rich in cholesterol) from the small intestines, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level. When solublefibres are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
6. Fibre Reduces Risk of Stroke
By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of stroke which is associated with high blood cholesterol Level. Stroke results from narrowing/blockage or rupture of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain.

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