It is recommended that an adult requires at least 30g of fibre a day. Fibre is essential to keep in check blood sugar levels and cholesterol and to promote the absorption of nutrients. Incidence of diabetes, coronary artery diseases and bowel cancers were observed to be low among communities that traditionally have a more fibrous diet.
Categories of fibre
Soluble fibre is mainly of plant origin and its major role is to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol, and also, to some extent, help prevent constipation. Soluble fibre is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, soy, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. It is also found in psyllium, a common fibre supplement.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools and prevents constipation and other complications such as hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, etc. Insoluble fibre is found in wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and wholegrain foods.
Top up fibre in your meals
Switch to whole grains such as brown rice, multigrain breads, etc.
Eat breakfast cereals that contains barley, oats, amaranthus, quinoa, etc.
Add an extra vegetable portion to your evening meal and make it a habit to start the meal with a salad or vegetable.
Indulge in healthy snacks such as fruit, dried fruit, nuts or unsalted whole meal crackers.
Antioxidants are present in fresh fruits and vegetables and are responsible for inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules in the body. They protect the body from damage caused by oxygen, peroxides and free radicals. Free radicals are believed to be responsible for the development of diseases of blood vessels, cancers, autoimmune diseases, etc. Antioxidants also help in preventing early ageing and protect the skin, vision and eyes, prevent heart diseases, stroke and also prevent dementia.
It is quite easy to include antioxidants in your daily meal. Some of the most important anti-oxidants that we come across on a daily basis are Goji berries, blueberries, pecan nuts, kidney beans, cranberries, coriander, clove, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cocoa, cumin, parsley, basil, ginger, thyme, etc.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are most essentially needed for the body in trace amounts for important vital functions. They contribute to our immunity, help heal wounds, perform cellular repair, help convert food into energy and maintain healthy bones. Some of the most important ones are vitamins A, D, C, E, K and B complex, while minerals include calcium, zinc, magnesium, sulphur and selenium. Dietary sources of vitamins and minerals are fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The important food items that provide adequate amounts of these essential micro nutrients are papaya, citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, dark greens such as spinach, kale, sprouts, whole grains, natural herbs, spices, etc.
Moisture refers to the amount of water present in food. The taste, texture and appearance of the food greatly depends on its water content. This is vital for the health of skin and other excretory organs. Altered dietary lifestyle, stress and over exposure to sunlight are the prime causes for dehydration and making the skin extremely dry. Other complications that may arise due to lack of moisture in the food are constipation, urinary complications, toxic levels in the blood, arthritis and other acidity related disorders. Having adequate water in the food also helps in proper mixing of digestive juices with the food thus improving the nutrient absorption. Hydration is also important for us to maintain our body temperature and to lubricate joints. Moisture can be obtained by eating moist foods and also by drinking adequate amounts of water. Consuming plenty of fluids, soups, raw salads and fruits ensure sufficient intake of water throughout the day
The writer is the owner of TrainMe, Mumbai