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We are constantly reminded of eating fibre by the health police. Have you ever wondered why we are asked to eat more fibre? Well, let us explore the world of dietary fibre.
Dietary fibre is nothing but indigestible carbohydrate found in food.
Fibre is divided into two categories based on its water solubility:
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and the “good” bacteria in the gut can metabolize it.
Insoluble fibre is a type of fibre that does not dissolve in water.
Fibre can be classified as “fermentable and non-fermentable” – which is whether the fibre can be used by the friendly bacteria in the gut or not.
The health experts recommend 25 grams of fibre per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.
The answer to that would be – because it feeds the “good” bacteria in the intestine. We are talking about soluble, fermentable fibre here.
A majority of bacteria lives in the human gut. This is called gut flora. There is a mutually beneficial relationship between us and the bacteria in the gut. It is nothing to panic about!
Major part of the carbs, fats and proteins get absorbed into the bloodstream before they reach the large intestine. So what is left for the gut flora?
Here fibre steps in. As we humans can’t digest fibre it reaches the large intestine in quite an unchanged manner. The bacteria in the intestine have the enzymes to digest fibre. So the fibre feeds the good bacteria that function as probiotics. The friendly bacteria produce nutrients for the body that provide help in reducing inflammation in the gut and reducing various digestive disorders.
Yes, there have been studies indicating the possibility of weight loss by increasing dietary fibre intake. This is because there is automatic reduction in calorie intake. Fibre also helps in losing weight by increasing feeling of fullness.
After a high-carb meal there are chances of blood sugar spikes. Foods that contain fibre have a lower glycemic index. This means that fibre containing food can help in causing smaller spikes in blood sugar than foods that are low in fibre.
So, it is better to include food that contains more fibre in your diet. At least you can prevent your blood sugar from reaching dangerous levels after a high-carb meal.
Certain kinds of fibre can reduce cholesterol levels. But the effects aren’t very large. Certain studies have shown that consuming a fibre rich diet can lower the risk of heart diseases.
There is a conflict of the effect of fibre in preventing constipation. It is helpful to some and also depends on the type of fibre. Studies do not provide satisfactory results. So, it may not be said with certainty that fibre consumption can prevent constipation.
Fibre-rich foods are healthier than low-fibre foods. This is because high-fibre foods tend to be whole, unprocessed foods. Such foods are always healthy. So, don’t miss out on the fibre in your diet. Remember your gut flora is counting on it.