By Morgan Nwanguma
More than ever before the need for us to understand the importance of dietary fibre in our food has become very critical. Food health scientists say this is because of the high prevalence of diabetes among our population coupled with the fact that so many have grown with the misconceptions or myth built about carbohydrate foods regarding the life of the diabetic. Even for decades it was erroneously advocated by the American Diabetes Association that high carbohydrate foods should be eliminated from the diet of the diabetes patient.
But from scientific research studies, food nutritionists everywhere have discovered that the problem has never been with the issue of the consumption of carbohydrates or even sweet foods per se. Rather, the problem has to do with the issue of processed foods and refined carbohydrates and sugars! And so starchy or carbohydrate foods are indeed very essential to the body and even for the diabetic patient. This is so because basic carbohydrate foods do contain the necessary fibre which is a vital ingredient in the prevention and also the treatment of diabetes. But when these carbohydrate foods go through the process of ‘refinement’, they are stripped bare of the all important food nutrients we refer to as fibre.
Fibre (roughage) generally in any food variety will always go to aid your digestive tract to function maximally; it helps your digestion thereby preventing the deadly consequences of constipation, haemorrhoids, and elevated cholesterol, as well as sugar in the blood. Meanwhile we need to be careful not to take fibre in excess as experts say it can also be harmful when you do that; but rather be sure to drink plenty of water as you increase your high fibre food consumption.
A high fibre diet is all important in this regard in that the more fibre the food contains, the more slowly the food is digested, and the more slowly the blood sugar will rise. Dr. James W. Anderson of the University of Kentucky discovered in his research that the insulin dose required by the diabetic patient will be reduced by about 25%, and even in the long run there would be no need any longer for it to be given to the patient, neither would there be need for any diabetes medication of any form owing just to the regular consumption of high fibre diets.
A high (fibre) diet acts on the pancreas which is a part of the gastrointestinal system and the digestive tract, in which insulin is secreted. However, there are two types of fibres: water soluble and water insoluble fibres, and they are both very good especially for the diabetics. The water soluble fibres are usually found in the variety of gums, pectins and mucilages which are mostly present in fruits and vegetables; they aid so much in the reduction of blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, water insoluble fibres are present in most other sources of food fibres like grains, tubers, etc. This form of fibre aids your system in free bowel movement which ensures the complete elimination of toxins and in addition ensuring that you are free of stubborn indigestion and the consequent constipation. Foods that are rich in fibre are therefore very good in the treatment of and prevention of diabetes and should be eaten at all times by all.
Examples of foods including fruits that are rich in natural fibres include – whole grains of all varieties such as maize, oatmeal, whole wheat, brown rice – including ofada & Abakaliki rice, beans and other forms of legumes. Others will include fibre rich fruits and vegetables, tubers and roots; some of these include broccoli & cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, oranges, sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, raisins, etc. You may want to know that whole grains are some of the best sources of fibre that are available naturally. People who live mostly on traditional whole foods have been known to have no traces of diabetes, while diabetes sufferers who have imbibed the habit are also able to set themselves free of the diabetes scourge in due course.