What is dietary fibre?
- Dietary fibre is the indigestible part found in plant. Although dietary fibre is not absorbed by the human body, it still plays an important role in our health.
- Dietary fibre can be divided into soluble and insoluble form:
- Soluble fibre is found mostly in beans and legumes, oatmeal, fruit, nuts and seeds. It combines with fat and passes through the body, and in that way helps to lower the body's blood cholesterol levels, and keep blood sugar at a normal level.
- Insoluble fibre comes mostly from wholegrain foods and vegetables. After absorbing water it expands and becomes soft, which aids the movement of the bowels and acts as an intestinal cleanser.
- The recommended daily dietary fibre intake for adults and teenagers should be not less than 25 grams. For young children, the daily recommendation is equivalent to their age plus five. For example, the daily dietary fibre requirement for a five years old child is 5+5=10 grams.
Uses of dietary fibre
- Foods in vegetables and fruits are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and β-carotene), which can increase our immunity.
- Insoluble fibre helps the bowel movement and removes solid wastes from the body, and thereby shorten the exposure of digested food in the bowels. This kind of fibre also prevents or reduces the severity of constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis.
- Soluble fibre binds with cholesterol-like substance (such as bile) which then removes from the body, and helps stabilise blood sugar. In this way dietary fibre is effective in controlling health problems associated with high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
- High-fibre foods tend to be low in energy and is more satiety which can prevent us from overeating. Therefore, high-fibre foods are useful in controlling body weight. A sustained high-fibre diet also reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
How to increase the dietary the following
- Eat at least 2 servings of fruit every day.
- Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables every day
- Substitute dried bean products for meat 2-3 times a week.
- Replace part of your white rice with whole grains, such as red or brown rice.
- Eat wholemeal bread and biscuits instead of breads and biscuits that have a high sugar and fat content.
- Pay attention to food labels, choose foods high in dietary fibre.
- Increase your dietary fibre intake gradually and have an adequate amount of fluids every day - at least 6-8 glasses. Otherwise you'll experience discomfort such as diarrhea and flatulence.
A well-balanced diet is the most important
Although high-fibre foods are good for your health, they should not be consumed in excessive amounts. It's important to maintain a well-balanced diet so as to maintain good health. Your daily food intake should include grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, egg and alternatives (including dried beans) and milk and alternatives. Eat plenty of grains, more fruit and vegetables, and moderate amount of meats (and alternatives) and dairy products.