- Published on Sunday, 29 July 2012 01:20
- Written by Dr ALI MZIGE
- Hits: 1135
The Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary describes fibre as “that part of food that helps to keep a person healthy by keeping the intestines working and moving other food quickly through the body.
This is the part of our food that goes right through our bodies and into the toilet without ever being used. What a waste? In fact, it is not a waste. That was the thinking, even of many scientists, until the early 1970s. We now know that fibre is like a general-it controls many body processes.
What the late father of nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, was telling us that he liked whole maize meal (dona) and not the refined maize meal (sembe), was nutritionally correct. Fibre is the framework of plants. Fibre passes through the body without being absorbed by the blood; fibre was long thought to be of no value. If fibre is removed from food prolongs the food’s shelf life. There are two groups of fiber: soluble fibre (that dissolves in water) and those that don’t (insoluble fibre).
Insoluble fibre absorbs and holds water from four to six times its own volume-creating soft, spongy masses in the stomach and in the small and large intestines. A sense of fullness occurs much sooner than with low fibre foods, helping to protect against overeating and aiding weight control. Cows and goats are the ones very capable of digesting fibre because of the nature of their body make up.
The fibre masses, acting soaked up sponges, fill the intestines more completely and stimulate them to lively activity. Instead of idling for several days in the food pipe and intestines in compacted clumps, as low fibre foods do, the spongy masses pass along much more quickly and evacuated in 24 to 36 hours.
This action cures most constipation and significantly relieves problems with piles (bawasir) and other infections of the intestinal tract called diverticular disease. The shorter transit time, less decomposition of organic material in the intestines occurs and there is less time for carcinogens and other harmful end products of digestion to irritate the bowel walls. The fibre also provides insulation against damaging food residues.
This fibre related actions may explain the lower cancer rates among people with higher fibre intakes. Fibre slows down the rate at which nutrients entre the bloodstream. This helps smooth out the ups and downs of blood sugar levels and provides more consistently energy throughout the day. A stabilized blood sugar relieves most people with low blood and aids in the control of diabetes (high blood sugar).
People should realize that most animal foods do not contain any fibre. Since meatchicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products make up more than 30 per cent of the calories of a western diet, sugars and other refined foods do not give enough fibre required in their diet Subject of eating or not eating fibre is the type of notion most young generation would not want to hear things like; green leafy vegetables, fruits and juices.
Most students would rather order a coke or fanta rather than asking for a piece of mango, orange or water melon. People should know that fibre is not something you can sprinkle on a plate of steak and eggs and make it (OK). Fibre is a very good anti breast cancer diet: breast cancer is a hormonally driven tumour (growth), and eostrogen is the fuel it needs to grow. When too much oestrogen reaches body receptors the risk of cancerous growth rises.
The anti-breast cancer diet includes 30 to 50 grams of fiber, which interrupts many of the steps of oestrogen activity. Fibre poor foods are dangerous to your health. Do not be misled by gimmicks that temper with the balance of the natural food. Focus on whole grain cereals and breads, fresh sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, fruit and vegetables, plenty of beans and other legumes.
This is the healthiest, safest, cheapest and best way to get the fibre you need Fibre plays a crucial role in weight control, diabetes, and digestion. It also helps protect against colon cancer (cancer of large intestine). Eating a variety of unrefined foods is the best way to provide your body with the fibre it needs.
Beware of meats and cheeses. They are totally devoid of fibre. Fibre is inedible, idigestible but very much essential to our life You may recall in my previous articles that, there is now growing concern among executives who frequent pubs for roast meat (nyama choma) and beer but not adding salads to their diet, as a result cancer of the colon is seen among meat eaters in parts of East Africa.