DHAKA: Eating more fibre is an easy way to fight off several deadly diseases. Did you know? Bran should not be used as the sole source of fibre as it contains phytates that, in excess, may hinder the absorption of important nutrients.
Most of us are pretty wary of the fact that a diet high in fibre makes for a happy digestive system, but the health benefits of this essential nutrient go even further than you think.
1: Fibre lowers cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can lead to clogged arteries and a greater risk of heart disease, which kills more than 46,000 Australians a year. Thankfully, fibre can help.
"Beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre, binds to bile acids in your small intestines," Orla Hugueniot, a nutritionist with Nutrition Australia, says. "Bile acids normally carry LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol, into your body. Beta-glucan helps the acids excrete, rather than re-entering the body."
Oats and barley are rich in beta-glucan. "Increase this type of fibre and you`ll quickly see an effect. Just how quickly depends on whether you`re on cholesterol-lowering medication, and how much saturated fat you`re having in your diet," Hugueniot says.
2: Fibre helps you lose weight
Being overweight or obese dramatically increases your risk of a range of life-threatening diseases, from cancer to heart disease and diabetes.
"Fibre helps with weight loss because high-fibre foods keep you fuller for longer," Hugueniot says. "You`re less likely to eat energy-dense or fatty foods."
Switching to high-fibre foods is also a simple way to modify your diet without having to count calories.
3: Fibre prevents and manages diabetes
All types of fibre help those with diabetes (types 1 and 2) and pre-diabetes, Hugueniot says.
"Soluble fibre slows down absorption of carbohydrates in the stomach, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels, a fundamental part of preventing and managing diabetes."
Soluble fibre`s effect on cholesterol is also useful for diabetics, as they often have higher LDL levels than non-diabetics. Insoluble fibre is also associated with controlling diabetes, but we don`t know exactly why yet, Hugueniot says.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, diabetes contributes to almost 15,000 deaths in Australia a year. Diabetes can result in heart disease, circulatory problems and other health complications.
4: Fibre prevents colon cancer
"Fibre increases the levels of the friendly bowel bacteria butyrate, which plays a role in preventing colon cancer," Hugueniot says. "Fibre also dilutes carcinogens and other harmful substances in our gut, and pushes them out of our body quicker, reducing our colon`s exposure to them."
Fibre-rich foods also tend to be high in antioxidants, which give general protection against cancer.
5: Fibre relieves constipation
This isn`t a life-threatening condition, but any sufferer will tell you it affects your quality of life significantly. It can also lead to more painful conditions such as haemorrhoids and diverticulitis, Hugueniot says.
"It all comes back to digestion. If you have enough fibre in your diet, you`ll have better overall digestive health."
All types of fibre help – soluble fibre softens the stool, while insoluble fibre adds bulk. Both make bowel movements easier and more regular.
BDST: 1155 HRS, JUNE 09, 2012
Edited by; Quamrun Nahar Shumi, Newsroom Editor
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