Dietary fibre plays an important role in the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that an artificial depletion of fibre as in case of refined cereals and sugars has over the last 100 years contributed to several degenerative diseases. Recent studies indicate that sufficient intake of fibre-rich diet may help prevent obesity, colon cancer, heart diseases, gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetic conditions.
IMPORTANCE OF FIBRE-RICH FOODS
Fibre in diet promotes more frequent bowel movement and softer stools. The softness of stool is largely due to the presence of emulsified gas which is produced by the bacterial action on the fibre. A high fibre intake results in greater efficiency in the peristaltic (movement of food) movement of the colon.This help in relieving constipation which is the major cause of several acute and chronic diseases such as diarrhoea, pile, etc.
Dietary fibre increases the bacteria in the large intestines which require nitrogen for their growth. This in turn reduces the chances of cancerous changes in cells by reducing the amount of ammonia in the large bowel. Fibre reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the diet. It also slow down the rate of absorption of sugars from food in the digestive system. Certain types of fibre increases the viscosity of the food content. Thus a fibre rich diet can help in diabetes mellitus.
SOURCES OF FIBRE
The most significant food sources of fibre are unprocessed wheat bran, whole cereals e,g unpolished local rice, millets, barely, rye; legumes such as potato, carrots, sweet potato; fruits like mango, guava, cucumber and vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce and celery.