In today’s world man is living his life in an unnatural environment. In recent time the impact of scientific and technical progress has resulted in taking man away from nature, and making his daily life more artificial, busy, uneasy, crowded and unsteady.
Nobody would deny the importance of food. We all take it every day, but very few of us seem to give it due thought and care. Most of our common ailments can be prevented, checked and also cured simply by modifying our food habits.
Dietary fiber are also known as Non Starch Polysaccharides (NSP), constitute the normal packing of plant foods. They are also present in outer coating of grains, which is retained in whole wheat bread and brown rice, but has been eliminated in white bread and white rice. No animal product has any complex carbohydrate or fiber. They can be defined as those parts of foods which are not digested by human enzyme.
High intake of fibers has a variety of benefits; a desirable level of intake is being 18 gram per day. More importantly a diet low in fiber like polished rice, biscuits, and preparations made of floor of polished grains (Maida) leads to constipation and development of high pressure in the intestinal tract. This has been linked with the development of diverticular disease of colon, hiatus hernia and varicose veins. Dietary fiber has multiple effects on colonic physiology. The water holding action of fiber prevents stool dehydration and contributes to increased bulk of faeces. Fiber also speeds up colonic transit in most persons. Thus helps in relieving constipation and related disorder.
Fiber and their sources
Cellulose All plants cell walls
Hemicelluloses Most plants cell walls
Xylans Wheat, rye, and barley bran
Xyloglucans Associated with cellulose in many plant tissues
Pectins Fruit and vegetables (especially under ripe fruit)
B-glucans Oats, barley, rye
Inulin Artichokes and some other root vegetables
Chitin Mushrooms and other fungi
Gums Exudates from arious plants; some seeds
Mucllages Seeds, roots, algate
The increased bulk of high fiber food gives greater satiety value, which is beneficial in preventing obesity. Dietary fiber also reduces the risk of gall stone formation; by reducing cholesterol concentration in bile. High fiber diet lower blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Cholesterol in used for bile salt synthesis in the liver. Dietary fiber bind a proportion of bile salts so that they are excreted in faeces rather than being reabsorbed, thus more of cholesterol is used for bile salts synthesis and so by this action they help in lowering blood cholesterol level and reducing the risk of heart diseases.
High intake of dietary fiber is also implicated in lowering the risk of colon cancer. All diets contain a number of potentially carcinogenic compounds; many of these binds to dietary fiber; and so become unavailable for absorption into the body and unable to interact with intestinal cells. Furthermore, theintestinal bacteria ferment a proportion of dietary fiber and some of the products of this bacterial metabolism have anti proliferative action, and so provide further protection against the development of intestinal cancer.
Low fiber Intake cause:
2. Diverticular disease of colon.
3. Hiatus Hernia
4. Varicose veins
Fiber rich diet reduces:
1. Gall stone formation
2. Heart disease
3. Colon cancer
To sum up it can be said that dietary fiber must be an essential element in one’s diet. By just increasing roughage content of diet one can minimize chances of being victim to many notorious diseases. Dietary fiber plays a vital role in disease prevention. One word of caution which I want to emphasize here that too much of anything is bad. Same is true in case of highly excessive use of dietary fiber. As too much of it may lead to gas formation in large intestine which might result in bodily ailment viz. belching, pain in abdomen etc. Hence it is advisable to take high roughage diet but at the same time avoid too much of it.