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Fitness Glossary

Dietary Fibre

Dietary Fibre And Constipation

Compared to third world countries, the typical diet in the Western world contains less dietary fibre. This leads to illness. Conditions that are relatively rare in countries where people eat a diet high in natural fibre are common here.

Such conditions include cancer and diverticular disease of the large bowel. Cancer of the bowel is one of the commonest cancers in Britain. Constipation resulting from a low dietary fibre intake is common and leads to straining when opening your bowels; this can cause further problems such as haemorrhoids (piles) that can bleed and are painful.

Dietary fibre is good for you

It is now well accepted that increased fibre in the diet represents a better way of preventing constipation than uncontrolled, often excessive, use of laxatives by people with a poor diet. The elderly, particularly, have a low fibre intake and as a result suffer from more constipation. Wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetable consumption is better than taking laxatives. Increasing the amount of fibre in the diet has other benefits as well. People with a high fibre intake have less risk of diseases affecting the large bowel such as piles, diverticular disease, and also less risk of cancer. These diseases can cause considerable pain and bleeding, resulting in money being spent on medicines. Cancer, of course, is fatal if not caught early. Increasing fibre also helps to reduce your cholesterol level and promotes a smoother absorption of dietary sugars. Fruit and vegetables as sources of fibre also provide plenty of vitamins. Fruit and vegetables contain a variety of natural chemicals that will help protect your heart.

What should I eat?

Eat at least 3 portions of fruit of vegetables daily. A portion might be one apple, a pear, a small banana, or a handful of grapes or cherries. Choose a variety of vegetables each day. Use more peas, beans and lentils; in many meals you can replace some of the meat with beans. This is much cheaper and very nutritious. Eat at least 4 thick slices of wholemeal bread each day and use wholemeal flower for baking.

Other tips include using tinned beans. They are a good way of getting fibre and are already cooked. Dried beans, like red kidney beans, are a very good and cheap way of getting fibre, but need to be soaked for at least 5 hours before thorough cooking. After soaking and cooking for 10 minutes you can put them into stews, casseroles or soups, or cool them and use in salads and cold dishes.

Potatoes contain a lot of fibre in the skin so try using them baked or boil with their jackets on. Brown rice contains much more fibre than white rice, sticks less and has a tastier flavour. Use wholemeal pasta. Breakfast cereals are also a good source of fibre. Try those whose ingredients are wholegrains and avoid sugar coated cereals.

Losing weight

Make sure that you have plenty of fluid with your meals to make the fibre nice and soft. Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet might, at first, cause an increase in abdominal bloating and wind. After a while, this becomes less of a problem. Foods high in fibre will fill you up more easily and this will probably help you to avoid eating excessive amounts of food. Increasing dietary fibre can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight.

Cheap, delicious and nutritious

You do not have to add bran to your food to increase fibre. The fibre rich foods mentioned above contain plenty of vitamins, are cheap and are delicious too!

Get healthy and delicious recipes at Free Gourmet Recipes

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