More roughage in diet can help ward off diseases

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2012, 17:30 PM IST

Washington: A diet rich in dietary fibre like fruit, vegetables, whole-grain foods, such as muesli and porridge, beans and pulses helps improve health and reduce susceptibly to illnesses like heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes, a new study by Indian scientists has revealed.

The team, which looked at research conducted into dietary fibre during the last few decades across the globe, now suggests that to avoid initial problems, such as intestinal gas and loose stool, it is best to increase intake gradually and to spread high-fiber foods out throughout the day, at meals and snacks.

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is the general term of the non-digestible parts of the fruit and vegetable products we eat.

Vikas Rana of the Rain Forest Research Institute, in Assam, India, and colleagues point out that research has shown that modern food habits have, it seems, led to an increase in the incidence of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

These are growing more common even in developing nations where a “western” diet of highly processed foods, high in sugars and saturated fats, beef and dairy products and low in dietary fibre is displacing more traditional options.

The team has suggested that evidence points to a loss of dietary fibre in the diet as being a major risk factor for health problems but one of the simplest to remedy without recourse to major changes in diet or the addition of supplements or so-called functional foods and nutraceuticals to the diet.

Given that dietary fiber has physiological actions such as reducing cholesterol and attenuating blood glucose, maintaining gastrointestinal health, and positively affecting calcium bioavailability and immune function, it is important for the current generation and future generations that this component of our diets be reasserted through education and information.

“Consuming adequate quantities of DF can lead to improvements in gastrointestinal health, and reduction in susceptibility to diseases such as diverticular disease, heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes,” the team said.

“Increased consumption has also been associated with increased satiety and weight loss,” the team added.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health.

ANI