Dietary Fibre – Differences and Importance
Further to the intro post here, there are 2 types of dietary fibre:
1. Soluble Fibre
These fibres occur in the form of ‘gums’ found in oats, barley and rye, and ‘pectin’ found in citrus fruits, carrots, cabbage, potatoes and squash. Soluble fibre decreases fat absorption, slows down sugar absorption and lowers cholesterol levels.
2. Insoluble fibre
This is mainly a substance called ‘cellulose’ and is found in foods such as rice, pulses and vegetables. Insoluble fibre absorbs water and improves the passage of food through the body.
Importance of Fibre
The digestive system starts with the brain, the expectation of food starts up your digestive system. Saliva is produced, your stomach muscles contract and digestive enzymes are released.
Breakdown of foods
While you chew your food, special enzymes in saliva begin to break down the food, quickly reducing foods such as fruit and veg to pulp. Food is further broken down in the stomach by muscle contractions, strong acids and enzymes. Food is stored in the stomach before the digestion stage.
In the small intestine, food is broken down chemically into smaller building blocks, releasing nutrients that can be absorbed and sent efficiently around the body via the bloodstream.
Substances that cannot be broken down in this way, such as dietary fibre, are passed to the large intestine. Intestinal bacteria breaks down complex high fibre foods, releasing more nutrients and fluid for absorption.
Fibre absorbs water, making faecal matter softer and easier to pass along the digestive tract, removing potential harmful toxins as it goes. The remaining bulk consists of dead cells from the intestines, fibre and bacteria, and it is this substance, faeces, that is eventually excreted.
Fibre is the key to a healthy digestive system, so eat plenty of vegetables!
Thank you for reading 🙂 Let me know what you think in the comments below!