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Though there is acquaintance with the name “Fibre” or “Dietary Fibres” since many passed out their alma-mater, yet most of them don’t have an in-depth knowledge regarding its nature and use. Natural or dietary fibre is a certain kind of indigestible carbohydrate derived from plants. Also called roughage, dietary fibre are classified into 2 types, one is water-soluble while the other one is not. They cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. It eases the defecation process and sometimes regarded as a major nutrient in World’s healthiest foods.

Benefits of taking fibre

  • Reduces cholesterol level and prevents development of obesity
  • It regulates blood sugar level thus reducing the risk of diabetes
  • Insoluble fibre speeds up the rate at which food is passed through our digestive tract and prevents constipation
  • Soluble fibre gives satisfaction during an appetite and supports cardiovascular health
  • Researchers believe that it reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by balancing intestinal pH and stimulating intestinal fermentation production

Natural Sources of fibre
Some plants contain significant amount of both soluble and insoluble fibres which are usually parts of plants, vegetables and grains. Soluble fibre is found in varying quantities in plants including nuts (almond being the highest), legumes (beans, peas and lupins). Vegetables such as broccoli, carrot, onions and sweet potatoes are abundant in dietary fibres. A Phyllium seed husk (Isabgol) is also a mucilage soluble fibre. Skins of fruits and vegetables like grapes, tomatoes, potatoes and whole grain foods are rich in insoluble fibres. Unripe bananas and avocado are also good sources.

When should you take fibre?
One can start fibre intake in majority when there are risks associated with diverticular and cardiovascular disease.  People who suffer from certain types of irritable bowel syndromes may gain some benefit by consuming insoluble fibres. Fibre has a very low calorific value and still provides satiety when taken in high volume. Hence, it helps in treating obesity for people who are seeking weight loss.

When should you avoid fibre?
There is no such concerning issues upon moderate intake of fibre. However, high fibre amounts can influence the gastrointestinal tract and cause gastric problems.  Doctors may advise one to avoid fibre and eat diet on a post-bowel surgery. Fibres can increase the rate of stool pass through your intestine. People who are underweight should avoid more fibre than is necessary for regular bowel movement. In case of chronic disease or any regular medications, fibre can block absorption of drugs by the body and in rare cases, even causes intestinal blockage. One should consult a doctor before using commercial fibre supplements.

Quantity to be taken
The recommended average daily intake of fibre is proportional to the body mass and is generally 18g for adults. Most people’s fibre intake is not upto the mark. A low fibre is associated with constipation and gut diseases whereas too much fibre is said to make a child’s diet bulky. The health risks of a low fibre diet are potentially much greater than those of a very high fibre diet.

Expert Tips/Precautions:

  • High fibre intake possesses no toxicity and rather brings possible health benefits that may not be available at minimal intake levels
  • The daily value of fibre should be 25 gms per day and incorporating fibre rich foods into a personal diet may take some practice and patience
  • Processed fibres should not be added too quickly to a meal plan. A slow gradual process is safe.