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Amazing Health Benefits Of Dietary Fibre You May Not Know

Dietary fibre found in many fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains has multiple health benefits. It is a form of carbohydrate not easily digestible by the human body. Studies say that including fibre in food is the best way to avoid digestive problems and improper bowel movements. However, the benefits of fibre are not only limited to good digestive health.

Dietary fibre is of two types: soluble and insoluble. For optimal health, it is good to consume both types in balance. A study has shown that the mortality rate decreased by 15-31 per cent in people who ate more fibre compared to those who consumed less. This is due to the decrease in coronary heart disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer mortality. [1]

In this article, we will discuss the amazing health benefits of fibre. Take a look.

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1. Manages diabetes

A clinical trial study has shown that dietary fibre helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, along with reducing fasting blood glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin percentages, more of which are considered a prediabetic symptom. [2]

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2. Lowers bad cholesterol

A study mentions that soluble fibres tend to reduce total and bad cholesterol levels (LDL). Though the decrease amount was small, the effect can be long term. The study also mentions that 3 g of soluble fibre from oats can help lower cholesterol by approx. 0.13 mmol/L. [3]

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3. Prevents heart diseases

An umbrella review on fibre has shown that consuming a high amount of dietary fibre can lower the risk of stroke and coronary heart diseases by 7-24 per cent with reducing in overall mortality rate related to cardiovascular diseases by 17-28 per cent. [4]

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4. Manages blood pressure

Beta-glucan, a natural soluble fibre found in oats and barley plants is linked to the management of blood pressure in patients with hypertension. However, the consumption of fibre by people without hypertension may sometime cause a sudden decrease in their blood pressure. The study needs more research in the area. [5]

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5. Helps with digestion

Fibre gets fermented by the gut bacteria present in the large intestine and gets converted into a viscous gel form. This causes faecal bulking and increases viscosity that helps with the digestion process. [6]

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6. Helps in weight management

Dietary fibre keeps us full for longer, which in turn, reduces the frequency of eating and lowers unhealthy food consumption. The increase and satiety and decrease in energy intake automatically helps in weight management. [7]

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7. Manages diarrhoea

In a trial study conducted among elderly patients, administration of fibre causes a significant reduction in the water content of the faeces and improvement in the frequency of the bowel movement, thus successful management of diarrhoea. [8]

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8. Relieves constipation

Dietary fibre helps bulk the stool and relieves constipation. Also, the laxative property of fibre helps loosen stool and improve bowel movement. However, it may not help with painful defecation. [9]

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9. Eases abdominal pain due to IBS

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often advised to increase the intake of dietary fibre in their diet as it appears to improve its symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort of the stomach. However, the intake amount should be recommended by a medical expert as it may cause an adverse effect. [10]

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10. May help in PCOD

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk of diabetes and obesity. As fibre helps manage both, its consumption can help with PCOS management by reducing hyperandrogenemia and insulin resistance in women with PCOS. [11]

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11. Improves skin health

Skin and diet are linked in many ways. Fibre helps with improving blood circulation, managing digestive health, improving oxygen supply to the cells, flushing out body toxins and many more. All together they contribute to good skin health from within and gives it a glowy and youthful touch. [12]

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12. Prevents haemorrhoids

The laxative effect of fibre helps reduce bleeding symptoms by 50 per cent and persisting symptoms by 47 per cent in people with haemorrhoids. Also, fibre may help in reducing the chances of straining (due to hard stool) during defecation. [13]

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13. Decreases risk of kidney diseases

High dietary fibre intake is linked to low inflammatory markers. Fibre helps reduce inflammation in chronic kidney diseases and improves the condition. This reduces mortality due to kidney diseases. [14]

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14. Helps with detoxification

Increased consumption of dietary fibre can improve gut microbiome, which in turn, can improve functions of detoxification organs; kidney and liver. Fibre increases the production of detox enzymes and antioxidant activity which helps to flush toxins out of the body. [15]

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15. May help prevent lung diseases

A study has shown that consumption of fibre can reduce incidences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases and improve lung functions. Fibre may also help reduce cough and phlegm. [16]

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16. Reduces inflammatory diseases

Systemic inflammation is the cause of many diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. Dietary fibre is directly linked to a reduction in inflammatory cytokines with a decrease in inflammatory diseases. [17]

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17. Prevents bone diseases

Fibre may help in calcium absorption and bone mineralisation. A study has shown that high consumption of dietary fibre reduces bone loss in the femoral neck, trochanter and lumbar spine in older men and women. However, the reduction amount was different in both men and women. [18]

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18. Manages hormonal problems

Fibre helps in managing multiple hormonal problems. It helps with menstrual hormones, sex hormones, hormones of thyroid glands, insulin, serotonin, gut hormones and many more. When the production and circulation of all the hormones are improved, the health of a person automatically improves. [19]

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19. Boosts immunity

Gut health is very vital for overall good health. Fibre acts as food for gut bacteria and helps them flourish and grow. The good bacteria help increase the number of immune cells such as IgA-secreting plasma cells, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells present in the intestines, which ultimately helps boost the overall immunity. [20]

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20. Maintains brain functions

Dietary fibre is positively linked to improved cognitive functions. It helps provide essential nutrients to the brain for its development and improved functionality such as memory enhancement, improved learning, solving problems and decision-making ability. [21] It also helps prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

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21. May reduce the risk of cancer

Dietary fibre provides protection against many cancer types such as colorectal cancer [22], breast cancer [23] and ovarian cancer [24] by improving digestive functions and hormonal balance in the body.

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Foods Rich In Fibre

  • Fruits such as pears, avocado, blackberries, coconut, guava, banana, apple, grapefruit and mango.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, sweet potato, ladyfinger, spinach, green beans, Brussel sprouts and squash.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, peanut butter, whole grain bread, quinoa and barley.
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, lima beans, lentils, soyabean and kidney beans.
  • Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Dry fruits such as almonds, anjeer, cashews and walnuts.
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Common FAQs

1. Why is dietary fibre important?

Dietary fibre is important for multiple bodies functions like managing diabetes, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart diseases, improving brain functions and preventing the risk of cancer.

2. How much dietary fibre should you eat a day?

Dietary fibre consumption depends on age, gender and preexisting medical conditions. However, a healthy adult is recommended to take around 25-30 g of dietary fibre a day from fruits, vegetables, legumes and other sources.

3. Is dietary fibre bad for you?

Excess consumption of dietary fibre can sometimes cause side effects like bloating, flatulence and stomach discomfort. Some studies link excess fibre consumption with worsening of hypertension and Crohn's disease.