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Fibres

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Last updated date: 21st Feb 2024
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Fibre Definition

To lead a healthy and balanced diet, it is very important to have a balanced diet and nutrition. Nowadays, people are focusing more on their outer appearance rather than their inner growth. Our body is constantly working, providing us with all the strength and stamina we need to function throughout  the day.  It is also necessary that we provide them back with the same nutrition and energy to maintain balance and smooth functioning of our body.


A healthy diet includes proteins, minerals,  vitamins, and fibre-rich food that supplies all the nutrition and reduces the risk of diseases. Fibres are one of the important nutrients of our body that help in maintaining and smooth functioning of our digestive system and also prevent cardiovascular diseases.


What is Fibre?

Fibres are complex carbohydrates, a type of sugar that is broken down by the body to provide glucose but cannot be digested by the human body. There are many naturally occurring plant fibres which are as follows - 

  • Cellulose - This is the insoluble fibre found in cereal grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also has a laxative effect.

  • Liginins - Lignins are found in wheat, nuts, flaxseeds, vegetables, bananas, and corn barn that adds bulks to stools. It triggers mucus secretion in the colon.

  • Beta-Glucans - Beta-glucans act as a prebiotic and are highly fermentable and metabolised in the small intestine. These are found in oats and barley and add bulk to the stools. 

  • Guar Gum - Guar gum acts as a thickener and has a viscous gel texture. It is also fermented and metabolised in the small intestine.


Types of Fibre

There are two types of fibres based on their nutritional value - 

Soluble Fibre 

  • Soluble fibre is a type of fibre that can dissolve in water and lower glucose levels as well as blood cholesterol

  • This type of fibre has a gelatinous texture like jams. 

  • Soluble fibres have demulcent properties that help in protecting the stomach from heartburn or gastritis. 

  • It also helps to treat constipation and reduces cholesterol.

  • Examples Include - Fruits like oranges, strawberries, apples, grapefruits, peaches, plums, and bananas. Vegetables include avocado,  carrot, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and legumes like kidney beans,  oatmeal, flaxseed, and soybeans. 


Insoluble Fibre 

  • Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and helps food move through the digestive system.

  • Unlike soluble fibre, insoluble fibre has a dry texture.

  • It has a laxative effect and helps in maintaining hunger and satisfying it. 

  • It prevents constipation and gastrointestinal blockage, or reduced bowel movements.

  • Insoluble fibres do not dissolve in the fluids but can stick to the other materials in the body to help form stools.

  • Insoluble fibre reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Examples of insoluble fibre food include barley, brown rice, whole wheat, zucchini, cabbage, green beans, root vegetable skins, dark leafy vegetables, pumpkin, and celery. 


Uses of Fibre

  • A high-fibre diet maintains bowel health and helps normalise bowel movements.

  • Fibres in our diet prevent colorectal cancer.

  • Fibres in the diet help to overcome constipation by increasing the weight and size of your stool as a bulky stool is easier to pass than watery stools.

  • A high-fibre diet lowers the risk of haemorrhoids and diverticular diseases. 

  • Fibres reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and also soluble fibre-rich food such as oats and flaxseeds helps in lowering cholesterol levels. 

  • People with diabetes should include soluble fibre in their diets which helps control blood sugar levels as it can slow the process of absorption of sugar. 

  • Fibre-rich food helps to maintain health as they are more filling and satisfies hunger for a long time which allows the person to eat less.

  • High fibre-rich food can also lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers.


Difference Between Fibre and Fabric


Fibre 

Fabric

Fibres are materials that make up clothes and are spun together to form a yarn.

Fabric is the end result of the weaving of fibres that results in a complete cloth.

Fibre can be of two types - natural and synthetic.

There are various types of fabrics available such as woven, knitted, non-woven, and braided. 

Serves as the foundation for making an item of clothing. 

It is a series of threads or fibres obtained by weaving, knitting, or braiding.


Examples- Cotton, jute, wool, silk and cellulose fibres.

Examples - Cotton cloth, canvas, khadi, and sanitary napkins. 


Key Features

  • Fibres have the property of water holding that helps maintain weight.

  • Fibres are obtained from plant food that the body cannot break down further.

  • Children and adults need 25 to 35 grams of fibre daily to maintain a balanced diet and healthy body.

FAQs on Fibres

1. What is the difference between dietary fibre and fibres?

Fibres and dietary fibre are different from each other. Dietary  fibre is included in our diet, providing important nutrients to our body. The other type of fibres are long threads used to make a fabric. Dietary fibre is mainly of two types - soluble and insoluble fibres. Fibres are also of two types that are natural fibres and synthetic fibres. 

2. What are the benefits of eating a healthy diet?

A healthy diet is necessary for maintaining the proper health conditions and nourishment of our body. It includes proteins that are necessary for growth and development, vitamins and minerals for immune growth and overall development of the body, and fibres for the proper functioning of the digestive system. To maintain a healthy diet, we should include fruits and vegetables rich in the sources like minerals and dietary fibres to maintain the health and strength of our body.

3. What are the functions of fibres in our body?

Fibres play a key role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Some of the key functions and uses of fibres in our diet are listed. The functions of fibres in our body include maintaining bowel health, lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure, helping in lowering the absorption of glucose, speeding the process of digestion, balancing intestinal PH, reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, reducing appetite, which helps in maintaining weight and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.