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9 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Dietary fibres for health

Prof. Dr. Md. Shahidullah
Dietary fibres for health

We need food to live. We eat food to get energy and nutrients for our body. There are some protective foods as well. The foods that we eat are digested in the gut and the end products of digested foods are absorbed from the gut and enter into the circulation. Then the body uses these for energy and nutrients. But some of the plant foods are not digested by the enzymes in the gut.

These are called dietary fibres. That is, the dietary fibres are indigestable portions of plant foods. These dietary fibres are present only in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, food grains, nuts and beans, etc. Animal foods do not contain dietary fibres. Examples of the dietary fibres are pectin, gum, mucinage, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

It is advised that an adult should take a total of
20-30 grams of dietary fibres daily.
The general rule is to consume 14 grams of dietary fibres per 1000 calories

These dietary fibres are categorized into two types. One type of fibres do not dissolve in water and they are termed as water insoluble fibres. The other type of fibres dissolve in water and are water soluble fibres. Plant foods contain both water soluble and insoluble fibres but some foods are richer in one than the other.

Examples of foods that are rich in water-soluble fibres include lentils, legumes, apples, and citrus fruits. Water insoluble fibres are more in whole grain, wheat bran, whole-wheat flour, brown rice, the skin of fruits, carrots, and peas. Vegetables and beans are also good sources of insoluble fibres. Pectin and gums are water soluble fibres are found inside plant cells. Fibres in cell walls are water insoluble. They include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

Though the dietary fibres are not digested and hence do not give energy, yet they are important for health. They offer many health benefits. Dietary fibres are helpful in preventing constipation, lowering body weight, decreasing the chances of hypertension, decreasing the risk of coronary heart diseases, decreasing postprandial glucose level, decreasing the chances of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and colon cancer.

Dietary fibres are well known for their ability to prevent constipation. Water insoluble fibres bind with water or absorb water, make the stool softer and increase the fecal bulk to ease constipation. Further, the water insoluble dietary fibres help normalize bowel movement, speed up the passages of food through gastrointestinal tract, thus reducing the chances of constipation.

Dietary fibres may be useful to lose weight. This is because the dietary fibres do not have calories. Again, because of their water absorbing ability, they provide a ‘full’ feeling after eating, thus allow the body to get rather fewer calories. So, the dietary fibres are helpful in lowering body weight in overweight persons and control weight in healthy persons.

Water soluble dietary fibres help lower the bad cholesterol LDL level in the blood. Cholesterol is excreted from the body through bile acids. Water soluble fibres bind with bile acid and in this way may enhance the excretion of cholesterol. Water soluble fibres also help lower the blood pressure and prevent the development of high blood pressure too. They can also be helpful to prevent coronary heart diseases.

Dietary fibres also help control blood sugar level by slowing the absorption of sugar from the gut. They decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Dietary fibres may decrease the chance of colorectal cancer. Water soluble fibres can also reduce the chance of developing hemorrhoids, diverticulitis.

How much dietary fibres do we need daily? It is advised that an adult should take a total of 20-30 grams of dietary fibres daily. The general rule is to consume 14 grams of dietary fibres per 1000 calories. Required amount of daily dietary fibre intake in children can be calculated by the formula: (age of the child in years + 5) gram a day. A small slice of whole wheat bread contains approximately 1.5 gram of fibre while a white bread contains about 0.8 gram.  

An apple of pear contains about 3.3 gram of fibre. 1 cup of lentil soup has got approximately 10 grams of dietary fibre. A banana contains a little over 1 gram of fibre. However, we shall not just calculate this way to consume the required amount of dietary fibres. Rather, to remain healthy, we must eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and other whole grain food to have the desired amount of dietary fibres.

Most of us, especially our children, do not have the habit of including more fibres in our diet. This is not a good dietary habit at all. We all must change this habit in order to stay healthy.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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