Here Is the Roughage to Alleviate Your Health Distress

Ever thought of such a bizarre name for something that can be eaten? Well, that’s because the roughage or bulk doesn’t contribute to negligible nutritional value (LOW CALORIES isn’t it!). Dietary fibre is well-known for its ability to prevent and relieve constipation! But that’s not all – A BUZZWORD ought to have something more significant. Read along to get interesting insights!

Dietary fibre or roughage is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants – mainly fruits, vegetable, cereals and legumes. Precisely! It is that portion of food that is not digested in the small intestines of the human digestive tract. It passes into the large intestine, where it is partially or fully fermented. Dietary fibres can also be classified into soluble and insoluble, with respect to their solubility in water. The aforementioned trait of dietary fibres is what makes them a superfood. However, according to the strict definition, they are not considered as nutrients!

Does this so called ‘non-nutrient’ actually help nourish us?

Hectic and sedentary lifestyles are driving people to opt for diets that are fiber-rich, owing to the following health benefits:

– Dietary fibre, in particular, the soluble type, lowers cholesterol level and helps maintain a healthy heart!

– Dietary fibre in the meal that prevents the abrupt rise of blood glucose levels, making it highly suitable for diabetics!

– Dietary fibre act as a food for the good bacteria residing in the stomach, thereby, maintain a healthy gut!

– Finally, fibre gives the feeling of being full, which may help one eat less and stay satisfied longer.

However, it’s a well-known fact that overuse of anything is always harmful, and hence, consuming too much fibre can have adverse effects, such as cramping, constipation or dehydration. The Daily Value for fibre is 25 g, as per the US Food and Drug Administration. This is based on a 2,000-calorie diet – the Daily Value of an individual may be higher or lower depending on the person’s calorie needs.

How smooth is the ride of roughage?

A report by a market research firm estimates a double-digit growth rate for the global dietary fibre market, estimated to reach a value of USD 5,320 million by 2022. What is being observed, globally, in terms of dietary patterns, can be best represented in the following words: “Going beyond basic nutrition,” and thus, food shelves in the neighbourhood supermarkets or even small grocery shops are stocked with functional foods and supplements. The market is driven by intense demand from downstream companies, especially in the food & beverage and pharmaceuticals markets; both are centred around health and well-being.

People from all walks of life, be it school going children or working adults, have a reasonable sense of what comprises a healthy diet. There is growing consumer perception about the health benefits of fibres and thus, it has become a buzzword in nutraceutical segments. North America accounted for the largest market share for in 2016. The increasingly ageing population of developed economies is acting as a growth driver for the dietary fibre market. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest-growing dietary fibre market owing to growing health consciousness, coupled with rising standards of living in the developing economies. The region has been pushing processed foods to incline more toward dietary fibres.

The Main Hurdles for the Dietary Fiber Market: mandatory pre-defined levels of fibre to be present in a food to term it as ‘fiber source’, high initial investment for regulatory approvals, and cumbersome clinical trials associated with the same.

The Way Forward: All the stakeholders, along with the value chain of the dietary fibre market, must be taken into consideration for laying down globally accepted definitions of what constitutes a fiber-source. There should be a global level consensus on promoting dietary fibre consumption either by fortification or in the form of dietary supplements to achieve over-arching public health targets associated with the Goal 3 of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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