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Consumption of grains and dried legumes (peas, lentils, etc.) has decreased dramatically over the last few decades. These important sources of nutrition have been replaced by meat, dairy products and various processed foods containing large amounts of simple, easy-to-absorb sugars.

Recent studies have shown that fibre, which is particularly abundant in the husk surrounding grains and dried legumes, as well as in the cellulose of green vegetables, the pectin in fruit and the bran in whole grain bread, helps regulate the amount of fat and sugar circulating in the blood.

You should consume about 30 to 40 grams (1 to 1.5 ounces) of fibre per day.

Fibre quantities in grams equivalent to 100 grams of different foods

Dried apricots: 24

Almonds: 14

Artichokes: 4,2

Bananas: 2

Brocoli: 4,3

Peanuts: 7,5

Carrots: 3,4

Celery: 6

Whole cereals: 11

Cabbage: 4,6

Dates: 8,7

Cooked spinach: 5

Dried figs: 18,3

Rasberries: 7,4

Gooseberries: 6,8

Cooked red beans: 3,5

Cooked dried beans: 4,5

French beans: 7,2

Lentils: 4

Rice: 2

Sweetcom: 5,7

Hazelnuts: 9

Walnuts: 5

Coconut: 13

Black olives: 8,2

Green olives: 4,4

Oranges: 2,9

White bread: 2,7

Wholemeal bread: 6,5

Peaches: 2,3

Peas: 5,3

Pears: 3

Leeks: 3,1

Chick peas cooked: 6

Apples: 2,5

Potatoes: 1

Prunes: 16

Raisins/sultanas: 6,8

Brown rice: 4,5

Rye: 44

Some types of fibre are not water soluble. For that reason they:

– help slow down the movement of foods which have been chewed and pre-digested by saliva from the stomach to the intestines;

– improve digestion and alleviate sensations of hunger;

– facilitate intestinal functions;

– help reduce cholesterol levels by accelerating the elimination of excess cholesterol;

– help prevent gallstones;

– act as a cure for constipation – because fibre isn’t broken down during digestion it makes stool easier to eliminate.

Fiber that is water soluble, found in pectin, resin and alginates (algae) absorbs large amounts of water. Its effect are also beneficial:

– this type of fibre makes you feel full more quickly, so you eat less;

– it slows down the absorption of fats and sugars into the small intestine, regularizing metabolism and reducing the amount of insulin secreted by your system.

For these reasons water-soluble fibre helps combat both obesity and diabetes.

What happens when you eat too much fibre?

You have to eat much too much than the recommended 30 to 40 grams (1 to 1.5 ounces) of fibre per day for it to become harmful. Colitis is one possible consequence. Ingesting too much fibre (especially the kind that contains phytic acid) can also cause decalcification. If you tend to consume a lot of fibre you should increase your intake of dairy products.

Possible effects of a fibre deficiency

As for the seriousness of not getting enough fibre, the following list speaks for itself:

– appendicitis

– cancer of the colon or rectum

– constipation

– diabetes

– diverticular colic (inflammation of a diverticulum – a pouch or sac opening out from a tubular organ or main cavity)

– hiatal hernia

– haemorrhoids

– heart problems

– bladder problems

– obesity

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