Why You Should Eat High Fibre Foods

By Dr Harold Gunatillake Health Writer

When you suffer from regular constipation it is no fun. You lose your concentration and the ability to perform your regular duties at work, and you may not relate cordially towards your family and friends. Eating high fibre foods can make you feel like a whole new person. The main reason being that high fibre foods cleanse and detoxify your body naturally.Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested in our gut due to lack of specific enzymes. Drinking more water also cleans the bowels.

Eating foods rich in high fibre, such as whole grains, including whole grain bread, brown rice, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds fruits will not only move your bowels regularly and relieve your constipation, also decrease your risk of high blood sugar, diabetes, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol in blood, heart disease, over weight and many others.

What is Fibre? – Roughage
Plants too have a structure or skeleton like all animals. It is the fibre that keeps the plants in shape and stands erect other than the creepers.

Our gut can't digest fibre unlike animals, not having the required enzymes to break down. Chewing the cud by cattle is part of that process. The fibre that we eat in food such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates, is not digested, passes though the small bowels into the large bowel and out in the faeces. These high fibre foods clean or sweep the bowels, especially after drinking plenty of water.
The fibres as they pass through the bowel limits the absorption of cholesterol, reduces blood levels, minimises incidence of cardio vascular disease, obesity, hemorrhoids, some cancers, high blood sugar in diabetes and keeps your bowels in trim condition.

Soluble and Insoluble Fibres - There are mainly two types of fibre in our food. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It is found in dried beans, carrots, barley, peas, and oats, and oats bran, flaxseed and psyllium husks. It is also found in citrus fruits and vegetables. These soluble fibres bind with the fatty acids in the small bowel and prolong digestion. This is especially beneficial to regulate blood sugar among diabetes.

Insoluble fibre is found in whole wheat, wheat bran, vegetables such as cauliflower and green beans and in the skins of fruits and root vegetables. These fibres remove toxins from the colon and balance intestine acidity as well as promote the movements of food through the digestive system and increases stool bulk benefitting those who struggle with constipation and hard stools.
To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high fibre foods.

Women should eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fibre a day, while men should eat for 30 to 38 grams a day.

Low fibre foods - Refined and processed foods such as canned fruits and vegetables, white bread and pasta and non-whole grain cereals are lower in fibre content. Always stick to whole foods.

More detailed Benefits
Normalizes bowel movements
Lowers blood cholesterol levels.
Soluble fibre found in foods mentioned earlier may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels.
Epidemiologic studies have shown that increased fibre in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which is also protective to heart health.
Helps control blood sugar levels
Fibre in food delays absorption of sugar and cause less spiking of blood glucose levels after eating food.
Helps to reduce weight

High fibre gives you more chewing time and also do not make you hungry soon. Low fibre foods like meat and white rice, being digested and absorbed quickly make you hungry sooner than you should.

Eating a High Fibre Diet - A high fibre weight loss diet is a healthy, natural way to reach and maintain a healthy weight, in conjunction with moderate exercise. There are a few basic tips to follow which can help you get plenty of fibre in your diet through food sources. Try switching white flour products to whole grains. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. Snack on nuts and seeds and fruits and vegetables during the day.

Substitute beans or tofu for animal sources of protein two or three times a week. Consume a variety of sources of dietary fibre and enjoy the health benefits of a well-balanced diet.

Colorectal cancer
Studies have shown that people who eat a regular high fibre diet has less chances of developing bowel cancer

Start the morning with a high-fibre breakfast cereal. Always select cereals with 'bran' (outer sheath of seeds), or fibre
Eat most of the Asian foods like hoppers, Indiappans, pittus made with brown rice.
Avoid foods cooked with white rice and white flour.
Stick to whole meal bread, such as whole wheat or whole grain. Unfortunately, most bakeries in Sri Lanka do not supply these breads. Certain super markets may have these breads, of course at a higher price the average person cannot eat on a daily basis.
Eat more legumes- beans, peas and lentils, kidney beans. Sri Lankans are blessed with varieties of lentils.
Bread and lentil curry is a good choice for most average workers for breakfast.
Eat fruit at every meal, such as bananas, oranges, apples, pear, are all good sources of high fibre.

Too much fibre
As the saying goes, everything in moderation, applies to fibre, too. Adding too much of fibre can quickly promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. A good example is unripe banana flowers (kehekmuve). Fibre works best with absorption of water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Barley high fibre diet- Barley Pilaf (Parve) GioraShimoni, About.com Guide
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pearled barley
2 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons pareve chicken soup mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (optional)
1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7minutes.
2. Add pearled barley to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, for another 3 minutes.
3. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in soup mix, salt and pepper. Stir in onions, garlic and barley. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until tender.
4. Remove from heat. Keep covered for another 5 minutes.

Uncover and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon peel.Serve hot with a poultry dish.

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