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April 2017
Dietetics
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FIBRE

   FIBRE

What it is

The term ‘dietary fibre’ refers to the non-starch polysaccharide components of cell walls, parenchyma, or other secretions from plant tissue, and lignin, which are all resistant to digestion by the enzymes in the large intestine.

Functionality

Fibre can be classified as insoluble, but able to absorb water, and soluble and more fermentable.   

INSOLUBLE FIBRE  
WHAT IT IS Insoluble fibres are cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
WHERE WE FIND IT It is mainly found in bran and is characterised by its ability to attach itself to water (purified cellulose can absorb up to 5-10 times its weight in water and bran around 25 times its weight).
WHAT IT DOES
  • Increases faecal mass
  • Accelerates intestinal movement
  • Reduces the amount of time that substances stay in contact with intestinal mucus.
  • Potentially harmful (toxins, carcinogens, etcetera).
USES Fibre is recommended to regulate intestinal functions and prevent and treat constipation and intestinal diverticulosis.

SOLUBLE FIBRE  
WHAT IT IS Galactomannans, pectin, rubber and mucilage are soluble fibres.
WHERE WE FIND IT They are mainly found in fruit, some pulses, vegetables and rolled oats. They can form a gel (for example, guar forms a gel that is approximately 100 times heavier than its weight) and can be highly fermentable.
WHAT IT DOES
  • Slows down gastric emptying and thus maintains the ‘full’ feeling for longer
  • Slows down intestinal transit
  • Speeds up the removal of bile acids (an effect that can be brought on by lignin and cereal shells too)
  • Reduces the absorption and production of cholesterol
USES It is good for those with metabolism problems (diabetics, and so on) as it slows down absorption of nutrients, as well as for people who are trying to lose weight as it keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Requirements

The optimum amount of insoluble dietary fibre to consume is around 30g a day. To reach this amount it is recommended to increase your consumption of fibre rich foods (cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables). Excess consumption could reduce the absorption of minerals (iron, calcium, zinc), due to the presence of phytates and oxalates, however, consuming animal protein at the same time as consuming fibre can help to prevent this effect.

FIBRE

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