In our earlier article on Vital Dietary Fibre, we identified the dietary fibres and the importance of them. In this article, we will focus on various forms of dietary fibres and dietary needs.

                     Basically, we have two types of dietary fibres based on the working mechanisms of dietary fibres as- Insoluble and soluble. Both types of fibre are beneficial for the body. The differences between the two are:

  • Insoluble dietary fibres: Insoluble dietary fibres help in removing the wastes through our intestine by adding bulk to faeces. Major insoluble dietary fibre forms include cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. They make up the structural parts of plant cell walls.

                  It helps in preventing the problems of constipation and associated health issues such as haemorrhoids if supported by adequate intake of water. Good sources of insoluble dietary fibres include bran form of wheat, corn or rice, fruits and vegetables covering, nuts, seeds and dried beans.

  • Soluble dietary fibres: Soluble dietary fibres work by getting mixed with the food, thus slowing down the digestion process. Slow down of digestion process is useful for people having high blood glucose problem, as it slows down the process of absorbing glucose from food. Major soluble dietary fibre forms include pectin, gums and mucilage. These are mainly found in the plant cells.

               It removes the high fatty acids and helps in lowering LDL cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fibre include grains like oats and barley, fruits, vegetables, seed husks, flaxseed, dried beans, lentils, peas and soy products.

               High dietary intake of sugar, meat, refined cereals, eggs and dairy products interferes with the functioning of fibres. Some food items like candies and cakes, because of rich sugar and fat content, are highly interfering.

Dietary needs:

                 As we lack the digestion of fibres, we are yet to identify a standard for setting fixed daily dietary need of fibre. Daily intake of dietary fibre varies a lot across the world. Based on the atmospheric conditions and dietary habits we can identify that:

  • Regions of world with lower incidence of degenerative diseases have higher intake of about 150gm of fibre per day,
  • Tropical region countries have higher intake of fibre per day,
  • Developed nations with sophisticated food processing industry have an average daily intake of only around 25gm per day.

                For an average human, daily intake of 30-40gm of dietary fibre is essential. But people with sickness or weakness should keep it to the lower limits as excessive consumption of fibre can irritate the delicate functioning of the digestive system. Excessive fibre intake can also cause loss of valuable minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium from the body through excretion.

            In this article, we identified various forms of dietary fibre, benefits and dietary needs. In next article, we will discuss important sub-forms of dietary fibre and the presence of fibre, in terms of quantity.   

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