As the world becomes more health and nutrition-conscious, it is always following one fad or another. Lately, a lot has been written about Dietary Fibre and its role in helping diabetics lead a healthier, more normal life. Today, we try to demystify dietary fibre and answer the burning question: Can dietary fibre protect you against high, blood sugar & cholesterol levels?
Yes! Years of research has proven that diet high in fibre content can not only prevent post-meal high blood sugar levels. But dietary fibre also helps lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So first, let us understand what dietary fibre is –
What Is Dietary Fibre?
Dietary fibre also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Your body does not digest the food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates which your body break down and absorbs. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. And this very quality of fibre is why it is such a magical nutritional aid.
What Is The Source & Types Of Dietary Fibre?
Fibre is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.
Soluble fibre- This type of fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material and can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fibre is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and in edible gums like Guar gum, and husk-like psyllium.
Insoluble fibre – Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fibre.
Do All Foods Contain Fibre?
When we learn about anything new about nutrition, we want to know what to eat so we can incorporate that as part of our diet. But here’s a shocker for you…Non-vegetarian foods contain ZERO Dietary fibre.
Yes! It is important to note that non-vegetarian foods like Meat, Fish and Egg and even Milk do not contain dietary fibre at all. Hence those individuals consuming predominantly non-vegetarian food required to supplement dietary fibre through high fibre vegetarian source or through consuming high fibre food supplements. Otherwise, they exposed to a greater risk of complications arising from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as chronic constipation.
What is the minimum daily recommendation of dietary fibre especially for an Indian? The Indian Council of Medical Research recommends 40g of dietary fibre intake/2000Kcal consumed.
When you consume carbohydrate (starches) containing foods, digestive enzymes secreted in your intestines break these carbohydrates down to sugars which are immediately absorbed into your bloodstream. This immediate absorption increases your blood sugar level.
To counteract this, your pancreas immediately secretes the hormone ‘Insulin’ which pulls out this extra sugar circulating in your blood. And stores it into your liver and muscles by converting it into a complex starch called Glycogen. And that’s how sugar levels controlled in healthy humans.
What Is The Significance Of Fibre For Diabetics?
If you’re suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the insulin secreted by your pancreas is unable to pull out the sugar. That circulating in your blood quickly enough to store it in the liver and muscles. And hence it piles up and keeps circulating in high concentrations in your blood for a longer time compared to a normal healthy individual. These high levels of sugar can damage vital organs such as eyes, liver, kidneys leading to severe health complications.
Therefore, people suffering from Type-2 diabetes recommended having fibre supplements.
How Do Dietary Fibre Prevent Post-Meal High Blood Sugar Levels?
Soluble fibre such as Guar gum, which is an ingredient in fibre supplements such as Hyfyber Soup, forms a viscous mass in the stomach and intestine. That prevents immediate flooding into the blood by delaying the emptying of stomach contents into the intestine. This delays the absorption of sugar released from the digestion of food. Thus a sustained release of sugar for absorption prevents high sugar levels in the blood protecting against diabetic complications.
Think of it like a regulator that slowly releases sugar into the blood instead of it rushing right out!
But that’s not all!
How Does Dietary Fibre Help Lower Cholesterol & Triglyceride Levels?
Cholesterol is present only in non-vegetarian food including milk. Vegetarian food does not contain Cholesterol.
So, Cholesterol enters your body either through non-vegetarian food you’ve eaten or from your own liver which makes it. However, this cholesterol & triglyceride which your liver makes cannot enter your blood directly from the liver. And has to come into the intestine through bile juice, made by your liver. Think of it like mixing oil and water using an emulsifier…
Bile poured into your intestine whenever you eat any food. From the intestine, this cholesterol and triglycerides absorbed into the bloodstream.
Insoluble fibres like wheat fibre (which is an ingredient of HYFYBER soup) bind this cholesterol and triglyceride onto its surface. And thus take (excrete) them, out of your body.
So Now You Know!
Thus regular consumption of dietary fibres (soluble and insoluble –as in Hyfyber soup) can act as regulators for sugar. And a cleaning mechanism for cholesterol and triglycerides give positive health benefits of regulating blood sugar level and lowering cholesterol.