A high-fibre diet is the gateway to preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

1:20 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

At least 50% of the diet should be composed of fruits and vegetables rich in fibre

New Delhi, 26 January 2019: According to ‘convincing evidence” from a study commissioned by the World Health Organisation, consuming fibre and whole grains can reduce health risks from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease. The paper published in The Lancet indicates that eating fibre-rich foods reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16% to 24%. A higher fibre intake is also associated with lower bodyweight, systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol when compared with lower intake.

The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, of the ICMR for fibre is 25g/day. A healthy diet is one in which about half is made up fruits and vegetables (45% to 50%) and a fourth is cereal and millets (rice/wheat/millets, etc). A person should get 55% to 60% of energy from carbohydrates, 25% to 30% energy from fats and oils (less than 10% energy from saturated fats and almost nil from trans fats), and 10% to 15% energy from protein diet.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “A high fibre diet is low in glycemic index. Due to this, sugar is released slowly into the blood which prevents an abrupt increase in a person’s blood sugar levels. Fibre is a plant substance that is required for a healthy diet. Lots of fibre is needed each day to help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve digestion, prevent constipation and maintain a healthy body weight. Fibre can be found in fruits, whole grains and vegetables. Most adults should eat at least 20 to 35 grams of fibre every day; though the doctors say most people only eat about half as much. It’s best to slowly increase the fibre in your diet instead of piling it on all at once.”

There is an average fall of 1.2/1.3 mmHg blood pressure with average 10-gram intake of fibre. Certain soluble fibres (psyllium, pectin, wheat dextrin and oat products) reduce bad LDL cholesterol. Every gram increase in soluble fibre reduces LDL cholesterol by an average of 2.2 mg/dL.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Oats give you soluble fibre. Add a banana or some strawberries to get more soluble fibres. Beans are also rich in soluble fibre. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. Eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts and other nuts is also good for the heart.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.
  • At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.
  • Choose healthy fats. Use fat-free or low-fat milk and/or dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
  • Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

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