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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Dietary fibre is absolutely essential for your digestive system to function properly. High fibre foods protect you against constipation and colon cancer and reduce your cholesterol levels. So remember to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and as many wholegrain products as you can.

Dietary fibre, or roughage, is the fibrous part of fruit, vegetables and cereals that your body can’t digest or absorb, so that it arrives undigested in your colon. Most dietary fibre is long, neutral-tasting sugar chains. Some are water-soluble, such as inulin and pectin, found mainly in fruit and vegetables, others are insoluble like cellulose and lignin, mainly found in cereals and cereal products.

What’s the effect of high-fibre foods on your body?

In your mouth, fibre-rich food has to be chewed longer and more intensively.


High-fibre foods bulk out a meal without adding calories. They stay longer in your stomach and help to make you feel full and satiated.

In your intestines, roughage binds water, making your stool bulkier and pressing on the wall of the intestines, which stimulates bowel movement and helps eliminate waste products more efficiently. This has the benefit that any carcinogenic substances also spend less time in contact with the intestinal wall. This is one way in which high-fibre foods protect you against colon cancer.

Bulkier stools mean less risk of constipation, but only if you drink enough liquids.


Fibres bind bile acids and carry them out of your body. Your body must produce new bile acids, for which it needs cholesterol. This helps to lower your cholesterol level.

Scientific studies have shown that high-fibre foods lower blood sugar levels in diabetics by slowing the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed from the intestine into the blood.

Helpful bacteria in your large intestine live on soluble fibres; they decompose them almost completely to shortchain fatty acids. These serve the mucous membranes of the large intestine as an energy supply and help to maintain the barrier function against damaging bacteria.

How much per day?

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that adults eat 30 g roughage a day. This translates into five portions of fruit and vegetables/pulses, a portion of cereal flakes, two or three slices of wholewheat bread and a portion of potatoes, wholegrain pasta or wholegrain rice.

Hint: If you want to change from a low-fibre to a high-fibre diet, it’s not a good idea to switch overnight. Your digestive system needs to adapt gradually to the change. Make sure you drink around 1.5 or 2 litres of water a day, so that the fibre swells up as it needs to do.

Tip: Finely milled wholegrain bread is easier to digest than coarse bread. Ask your baker for 100% wholegrain bread and don’t be deceived by ordinary bread that’s been coloured darker even if it’s got the odd corn or sunflower seed.

Sources: LEL Schwäbisch Gmünd, In Form

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