Why is Fibre Important?

What is Fibre?

FibreFibre is the indigestable part of the plant foods we eat. Meat and other animal products contain limited dietary fibre. All plant foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibres to varying degrees depending on the plants characteristics. Fibre is largely a carbohydrate.

Main function of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy and functioning properly. Fibre helps in speeding up the excretion of waste and toxins from the body, preventing them from sitting in the intestine or bowel for too long, which could cause a build-up and lead to several diseases such as bowel cancer or other cancers, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids.

Eating foods that are high in fibre will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. This may help you if you are trying to lose weight.

If you are increasing your intake of fibre, it is important to increase it gradually. A sudden increase can make you produce more wind, leave you feeling bloated, and cause stomach cramps. It is also important to make sure that you drink plenty of water. A high fibre diet may not prevent or cure constipation unless you drink enough water every day.

Soluble fibre:

Soluble fibre slows stomach emptying. It absorbs water in the intestine, which softens the stool and helps the waste material move through the body more quickly. And because food  leaves  stomach slowly, blood sugar levels after consuming soluble  food may be lower.

It can be found in fruits, vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, oats, barley, oatmeal, potatoes, dried fruit, soya milk and soya products.

Insoluble fibre:

Promotes the growth of a certain friendly bacteria that ferments and makes the waste material soft and bulky, which in turn helps it to pass through the intestines quicker to the bowel and out of the body and prevents constipation.

It can be found in foods such as bran, wholemeal flour and breads, brown rice, whole grain cereals, vegetables, edible peels of fruit, nuts and seeds

Interesting read:

Probiotics Reduced Duration Of Diarrhoea

Probiotics may offer a safe intervention in acute infectious diarrhoea to reduce the duration and severity of the illness, according to the latest Cochrane review.

Episodes of acute infectious diarrhoea are due to infection by many different organisms.  Most episodes are self-limiting and usually investigations are not done to identify the infectious agent.  The main risk to health is dehydration, and management aims to improve and maintain hydration status.  However, rehydration fluids do not reduce the stool volume or shorten the episode of diarrhoea.

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that improve health and are not harmful themselves.  A number of randomized controlled trials have been done to see whether probiotics are beneficial in acute infectious diarrhoea.  To assess the effects of probiotics, scientists at the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group searched for as many of these trials as possible and collected together the data in a systematic way to try to discover whether or not probiotics are beneficial in acute infectious diarrhoea.

A total of 63 trials were identified, 56 of which focused on infants and children, involving 8014 people overall.  Primary outcomes used for analysis were the mean duration of diarrhoea, stool frequency on day 2 after intervention and ongoing diarrhoea on day 4.

Nearly all studies reported a shortened duration of diarrhoea and reduced stool frequency in people who received probiotics compared to the controls.  Overall, probiotics reduced the duration of diarrhoea by about one day; and reduced the risk of diarrhoea lasting four or more days by 59%.  No adverse events were attributed to the probiotic intervention.

The authors concluded that when used alongside rehydration therapy, probiotics appear to be safe and have clear beneficial effects in shortening the duration and reducing stool frequency in acute infectious diarrhoea.  However, more research is needed to guide the use of particular probiotic regimens in specific patient groups.

Source:
Allen SJ, et al. Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea (Review). Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003048. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003048.pub3.xx

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3 Responses to “Why is Fibre Important?”

Comment from shopping blog
Time December 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Well written article. I plan to share it on my Facebook fan page. I think my blog readers will enjoy it.

Pingback from How can we improve digestive health? Simple Health Tips
Time March 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

[...] the liver. We cannot live without our liver! In the colon more nutrients and water are absorbed and fibre keeps the contents moving along so the toxins don’t damage the bowel wall. By now digestion [...]

Pingback from Ways to ease the burden of living with IBS Simple Health Tips
Time September 25, 2012 at 1:08 am

[...] Why is fibre important – good read [...]

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