Dietary Fibre was never considered a nutrient up until a few decades ago. The upsurge of various GI diseases in the recent past has brought the attention of medical professionals to this non-nutritive, yet essential part of the human diet. Considerable efforts have been made to supplement fibre in health foods such as nutritional bars.
Dietary Fibre are undigestible part of human diet & are of two types mainly soluble & insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is mainly found in foods such as oatmeal, apple, lentils, oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries; whereas insoluble fibre in foods such as whole grain cereals, brown rice, bulgar wheat (daliya), wheat/ oats bran, green leafy veggies.
Health food manufacturers such as those of nutritional bars are adding oats, whole wheat flakes, dried fruits, etc which help in increasing the overall fibre content of these bars.
Daily Dosage : 25 – 30 gms of fibre / day through diet is a healthy amount for males & females of the Indian population.
Few essential functions which fibre plays in the human body are described as follows :
- Amazing cholesterol lowering action
Fibre binds with bile salts in the gut & prevents cholesterol absorption from diet. It also inhibits the in vitro synthesis of cholesterol, thus reducing changes of plaque deposition in blood vessels & preventing coronary heart diseases.
- Glycemic Control Achiever
Liberal intake of fibre through diet enables slow absorption & breakdown of carbohydrates to their usable units of glucose in the blood. The rate at which glucose is released in the blood stream is very important in keeping diabetes under control, and dietary fibre keeps the right check on this rate.
- Excellent Prebiotic
Soluble fibre gets fermented in the colon, producing short chain fatty acids. These SCFAs are food to healthy gut microbes, which help in absorbing various essential nutrients from food such as Vit K, Vit B12. Nutritional bars having flax seeds, cranberries, oats can partly help in fulfilling this function.
- Natural Cathartic
Insoluble fibre provides bulk to the waste matter in the gut, thus easing their excretion out of the body. This property of insoluble fibre is the principle of treatment for curing various GI diseases such as constipation, piles, haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, colon/ rectum cancers.
- Weight Loss Enhancer
Increasing the amount of fibre intake through the diet helps to lose weight comfortably, by suppressing the overall dietary intake, giving a feeling of fullness. Nutritional bars with oats, whole wheat flakes are a good healthy option to snack on sometimes.
Ways of Incorporating Fibre in Your Daily Diet :
- Consume minimum 2-3 variety of whole fruits in a day, instead of drinking fruit juices.
- Consume 2-3 servings of vegetables in a day in the form of salads or subjis with your meals. Unstrained vegetable soups & juices are an excellent source of insoluble fibre.
- Oats, broken wheat, ragi, jowar, bajra are good high fibre alternatives for wheat items, which can be substituted in breakfast, lunch times.
- Rolled oats, whole wheat flakes, dried raisins, cranberries added in nutritional bars, are a good source of dietary fibre.
- Adding powdered oats or wheat/ oats bran in the normal wheat flour can also considerably increase the fibre content of wheat.
- Including dried fruits such as raisins, figs, apricots, dates in daily diet also helps to increase fibre intake.
- A glass of water with 2 tsps of psyllium husk can work as magic in reducing food intake for weight loss.