Fibre or roughage refers to the undigested vegetable matter containing substances like cellulose, lignin and pectin which are not completely broken down and digested by the intestines. Most of the fibre is removed from cereals when they are processed and polished. Good carbs refer to carbohydrate foods that are high in fibre and not in sugar. High fibre and whole-grain intake have been shown to significantly reduce mortality and chronic illnesses. It has been estimated that the average dietary fibre intake in adult American men and women is 18gms and 15gms (when the recommendation is 33.6gms and 28gms per day). Given below are some of the benefits of a high fibre diet:
– 15-30% reduction in all cause and cardiovascular mortality including the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and colon cancer.
– High fibre reduces body weight, blood pressure and total cholesterol.
– Decreased body weight in turn reduces risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many cancers.
– Fibre reduces intestinal transit time by bulking up the stools and improving the emptying of the colon. The higher incidence of colon cancer in Western society is attributed to the lack of adequate dietary fibre. In contrast, rural African communities consuming traditional meals of high fibre, low meat and low fat have very low colon cancer rates.
– High fibre cereal intake is associated with improved insulin sensitivity, lipid profile, endothelial function and reduces inflammation.
– High fibre intake has been shown to reduce the incidence of prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian (PLCO) cancer and has an inverse relationship with cancers of the head and neck region, especially oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers. This happens independent of whether they are smokers and alcohol drinkers or not.
– The benefits of fibre are not only due to the fibre itself but also due to the other nutrients accompanying it. Metabolites of fibre, particularly butyrate can prevent cancer in any part of the body. Phyto-nutrients that accompany dietary fibre in food have additional health benefits. People who eat a high-fibre diet tend to be more health conscious and have a better life style.
– It is believed that fibre in any form (even as a pill) is good for health.
– Fibre rich foods are wholegrains, green vegetables, legumes, whole fruit with skin, etc.
You would do very well to incorporate a salad with every meal.