WHY SHOULD WE EAT DIET RICH IN FIBER CONTENT? WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF IT?
The benefits of eating diet rich in fibre content can be explained as follows,
- WEIGHT LOSS: Both soluble and insoluble fibers have low caloric value. Soluble fibers absorb water & form a gel inside the large intestine. This slows down digestive process. Insoluble fibers do not absorb water. Instead they form a bulk within the intestine and impart a sense of fullness at a low caloric intake and early satiety. Both of these mechanisms contribute in weight loss.
- PROTECTION FROM DIGESTIVE TRACT PROBLEMS: Gut bacteria need food for their survival. Dietary fibers (soluble fiber) and fructose present in fruits are an ideal source of nutrition for Gut microorganisms. Gut bacteria feed on them and ferment the undigested fibers inside the large intestine. This produces nutrients and beneficial chemicals that provide protection to the digestive tract from many Gastrointestinal illnesses like- Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, etc.
- PREVENTS BLOOD SUGAR SPIKES IN DIABETICS: Soluble fibers absorb water inside the digestive tract and forms a gel like substance, which slows down the process of digestion and absorption. It also binds with the sugar present in the food,which reduces the amount of sugar that is getting absorbed from the intestine. This prevents sudden rise (spikes) in the blood sugar level following a meal in Diabetic patients.
- DECREASES BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: Dietary fibers prevent the absorption of bile from intestine back into the blood. It eliminates bile through feces and to compensate this,liver has to produce more bile. Formation of bile acids require cholesterol. To achieve this liver removes more and more cholesterol from the Blood especially that of LDL (BAD CHOLESTEROL) type, which helps in lowering Blood cholesterol level.
- RELIEVES CONSTIPATION: Soluble fibers absorb water and forms the major bulk of stools.It also makes the stools soft and easy to pass through the intestines. Insoluble fibers enhance the movement of stools through the digestive tract.All these mechanisms contribute in relieving constipation.
- PROTECTS FROM HEART PROBLEMS: Bad cholesterol (LDL) form plaques within the lumen of blood vessels and narrows it down. This reduces the blood and oxygen supply to the heart. High fiber diet reduces blood cholesterol levels of LDL type, thus prevents formation of plaques within the lumen of blood vessels and indirectly protects the heart.
- REDUCES RISK OF PARALYSIS (STROKE): The similar manner in which it reduces blood Cholesterol (LDL) levels and protects heart, high fiber diet also reduces the risk of (stroke) Paralysis.
- PROTECTION FROM PILES: Hard stools requires straining and efforts to clear them from the body. It puts more pressure on the veins in lower part of large intestine i.e. rectum, which results into piles. Both soluble and insoluble fibers ease the movement of stools inside the digestive tract, relieve constipation and straining and in turn reduce the risk of suffering from piles.
- DECREASES RISK OF DIVERTICULITIS: Constant straining during defecation weakens the mucosa (Inner wall) of the intestines and creates pouches (diverticulosis) within. Infection or inflammation of these pouches is called as diverticulitis. By relieving constipation and smoothening the passage of stools through the digestive tract, fibers decrease the chances of pouch formation (Diverticulosis) and its sequel (Diverticulitis).
- PROTECTS SKIN HEALTH: Dietary fibers bind to the fungus and yeast present inside the digestive tract and eliminates it from the body through feces.This prevents their excretion through the skin and protects skin from the risk of acne and rashes.
- REDUCES RISK OF GALL STONE FORMATION: Cholesterol is required for the formation of gallstones. Fibers from the diet decrease blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of gallstone formation.
- REDUCES RISK OF KIDNEY STONE FORMATION: Insoluble fibers bind to the Calcium inside the digestive tract and prevent its absorption into the blood. This indirectly prevents its excretion through urine and reduces the risk of its deposition in the form of calcium stones in the kidney.
- BOOSTS OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM: Fermentation of soluble fibers by gut bacteria produces certain substances and chemicals which keeps theself-destructing immune system (Autoimmune Diseases) under check and improves the function of protective immune system.
- PROTECTION FROM CANCERS: Like;
- CANCER OF THE LARGE INTESTINES (CANCER OF THE COLON): Good bacteria from large intestine ferments soluble fibers to produce a very important chemical e.g. Butyrate.This protects our intestinal mucosa from ill effects of dietary carcinogens (Cancer causing agents). Insoluble fibers increase gut mobility which removes the carcinogens from our body even before they can induce any effect.
- BREAST CANCER: Dietary fibers binds excess of estrogen inside digestive tract. This reduces blood levels of estrogen.If present in excess, estrogen can act as risk factor for breast cancer.
IMP: Though fruits contain Fructose as a main sugar. They are also rich in fibers.Fibers present in fruits keep fructose bound to them and prevent its absorption into blood and eliminate it through feces. Thus, it is safe to eat fruits.