Include dietary fibre in your meals and enjoy optimum health

Include dietary fibre in your meals and enjoy optimum health
A high-fibre diet will help you normalise your bowel movements and maintain proper digestive health. © Shutterstock

You must add dietary fibre to your diet if you want to achieve total wellness. It will not only help you lose weight but also bring down your risk of many diseases.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Published : October 29, 2019 8:26 PM IST

A high-fibre diet is a great way of keeping your digestive system healthy. But other than this, by including a lot of fibre to you diet, you are also significantly bringing down your risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes and also a few types of cancers.

According to a study at The Lancet, people who eat higher levels of dietary fibre and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts. But links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are not very clear. This is based on observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years. This review reveals the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day. Researchers say that a high fibre diet boosts overall health.

This study was commissioned by the World Health Organisation. The aim of the study was to figure out required daily fibre intake and to determine which types of carbohydrate provide the best protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and weight gain. Researchers say that most people worldwide consume less than 20 g of dietary fibre per day. However, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends an intake to 30 g per day.

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According to researchers, people who included a lot of fibre to their diet had almost 15 to 30 per cent decrease in cardiovascular related mortality. This is in comparison to people eat the least fibre-rich foods. It was also seen to reduce incidences of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16 to 24 per cent. Besides, researchers say that a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggest that increasing fibre intakes lowers body weight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.

Health benefits of a high-fibre diet

A high-fibre diet will help you normalise your bowel movements and maintain proper digestive health. It also lowers blood cholesterol levels, brings down blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart diseases. Moreover, it can help you lose weight by keeping you full for a longer period of time.

According to a study published in the BMJ-British Medical Journal, greater dietary fibre intake brings down your risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Researchers of this study, at the University of Leeds, looked at data from across the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. Another study at the University of Sydney says that it may even reduce the risk of preeclampsia in pregnant women. A review by Indian scientists, published in International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, says that 'consuming adequate quantities of DF can lead to improvements in gastrointestinal health, and reduction in susceptibility to diseases such as diverticular disease, heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes'. Increased consumption has also been associated with increased satiety and weight loss, they say.

Sources of dietary fibre

You can source dietary fibre from whole grains, legumes, pulses, vegetables and fruits. It is basically the roughage of those foods and it includes that you are unable to digest. It passes through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. In the process, it cleans your stomach and eases bowel movement.

Dietary fibre can be either soluble or insoluble. The only difference between the two is that soluble fibre dissolves in water. Soluble fibre is known to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You can source this from peas, carrots, oats, beans, citrus fruits, apples and barley. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, helps in movement along the digestive system. It helps in constipation and irregular stools. You can source this from whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, beans and nuts. You will also get in from vegetables like cauliflower, beans and potatoes.