In today’s fast-paced and busy world, many people struggle to get the proper amount of nutrients in their diet, and fibre is no exception.
Dietary fibre, also known as roughage, is the indigestible part of plant-based foods that pass through the digestive tract unchanged. It is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining good health and preventing various health issues.
In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of dietary fibre and how incorporating it into your diet can improve your overall well-being. From promoting regular bowel movements to regulating blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, the benefits of dietary fibre are numerous and far-reaching.
So, keep reading to learn more about the power of fibre and how it can improve your health.
Benefits of dietary fibres
A fibre-rich diet offers many health benefits, which are discussed below.
1. Dietary fibres prevent constipation
One of the most well-known benefits of dietary fibre is its ability to promote regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Increasing the bulk and weight of stools by fibre stimulates the intestines’ muscles to contract and push the stool through the colon. Additionally, fibre absorbs water, which helps to soften and lubricate the stool, making it easier to pass. A diet high in roughage can also help prevent conditions such as haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colon cancer.
2. Dietary fibres reduce the risk of heart disease
This process causes the liver to use cholesterol to make more bile acids, thereby reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Soluble fibre can also slow down the absorption of dietary cholesterol and glucose, which can help control blood sugar levels.
Additionally, dietary fibre can help promote feelings of fullness, leading to eating less and, ultimately, weight loss. Since being overweight or obese is a risk factor for heart disease, dietary fibre can indirectly reduce the risk of heart disease. This promotes weight loss and improves overall cardiovascular health.
3. Dietary fibres regulate blood sugar levels
Dietary fibre, specifically soluble fibre, regulates blood sugar levels by slowing down glucose absorption in the digestive tract.
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance when it comes into contact with liquids. It can help slow food movement through the digestive tract and slow the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, it leads to a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels and a slower drop in blood glucose levels after a meal.
So the roughage is beneficial for people with diabetes, as it can help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. Additionally, eating high-fibre foods can help promote feelings of fullness, leading to eating less and, ultimately, weight loss.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Roughage can indirectly help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by promoting weight loss and improving overall glucose metabolism.
4. Dietary fibres help with weight management
Dietary fibre, especially insoluble fibre, can help with weight management by promoting feelings of fullness and satiety.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water, so it can help add bulk to the diet, making you feel full faster and longer. The bulkiness of fibre also means it takes more time to chew and swallow, which can help slow down eating and prolong the feeling of fullness. When you feel full, you’re less likely to overeat and consume extra calories, which can lead to weight gain.
Additionally, high-fibre foods tend to be lower in calories, so they can help you feel full while consuming fewer calories overall. Eating a diet high in fibre can also promote weight loss by helping to regulate blood sugar levels, which can help reduce cravings and overeating.
5. It reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer
Dietary fibre, especially insoluble fibre, can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer.
This is because insoluble fibre acts as a “brush” in the colon, helping move cancer-causing toxins through the digestive tract and promoting regular bowel movements. This can help reduce the time that potentially cancer-causing substances spend in contact with the colonic lining. In addition, eating a diet high in fibre is also associated with a lower risk of developing colon polyps, which are growths in the colon that can potentially turn into cancer.
When insoluble fibre ferments in the large intestine, it promotes healthy microbe growth. These beneficial gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). The SCFAs provide energy to the colon cells, stimulating the growth of healthy colon cells and inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells. Studies have shown that a diet high in fibre is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.
The benefits of dietary fibre are most evident when consumed from natural food sources like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes rather than supplements.
6. Dietary fibres improve gut health
Dietary fibre, especially soluble fibre, can help improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Soluble fibre is not digested by human enzymes, and it reaches the colon, fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These beneficial bacteria play an essential role in maintaining a healthy gut by helping to keep the gut microbiome balanced, strengthening the gut barrier, and reducing inflammation.
7. It may help to reduce inflammation in the body
Dietary fibre, especially soluble fibre, can help reduce inflammation in the body in several ways.
Firstly, soluble fibre reduces the absorption of chemical that causes inflammation, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, and by binding with these compounds, soluble fibre can help to reduce their absorption and lower the risk of inflammation.
Secondly, the fermentation of soluble fibre by gut bacteria produces short-chain fatty acids, which can act as anti-inflammatory compounds and help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. In addition, these short-chain fatty acids can help to regulate the immune system and inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines.
Thirdly, dietary fibres can help promote a healthy gut microbiome. Gut flora is crucial in regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. A diet high in fibre can help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can help to keep the gut microbiome balanced and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Finally, eating a diet high in fibre help to promote weight loss, which can also help reduce inflammation, as obesity is associated with chronic inflammation.
What is recommended amount of dietary fibre to take?
The recommended daily dietary fibre intake varies depending on a person’s age, sex, and level of physical activity. Generally, it is recommended to take 25 g to 30 g of dietary fibre daily.
It is important to note that these are general recommendations. Individuals should consult their healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on their specific health needs.
Additionally, it is recommended to gradually increase dietary fibre intake over weeks to prevent gas, bloating, and other digestive discomforts. Drinking enough water when consuming high-fibre foods is also essential. This is because fibre absorbs water and can cause constipation if not enough water is consumed.
How can you get dietary fibres?
The best sources of fibre are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. So aim to include a variety of these foods in your diet. Make sure to eat whole fruit or vegetable, rather than just juice, to get the most fibre.
The Bottom Line
Dietary fibre is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining good health. Including more fibre-rich foods can improve your digestion, heart health, blood sugar control, and weight management. Also, it can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
So, ensure your daily dose of fibre and enjoy all its benefits.