Dietary fibre

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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INTRODUCTORY FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DIETARY FIBRE : SIGNIFICANT TO HUMAN HEALTH OR NOT? In scientific terms, dietary fibre is a mixture of components derived from plant cell wall material and non-structural polysaccharides, as well as non-starch polysaccharides added to foods. It includes non-digestible polysaccharides such as cellulose, hemi-celluloses, gums, pectins, mucilages and lignin. From a nutrition point of view, some authorities also include 'resistant starch' (i.e. starch that is resistant to enzymic degradation, usually as a result of processing).

This dissertation deals with the physical and chemical properties of dietary fibre and discusses its significance with respect to disease prevention e.g. cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and more ultimately with respect to human health as a whole. Emphasis is given to the structure of the different forms of dietary fibre and how this affects the physical and chemical properties of each type resulting in different advantages and disadvantages to human health.

The way in which fibre helps prevent disease is also discussed extensively in order to prove that clinical nutritionists are right to encourage intake of dietary fibre in increased amounts with caution to the fact that overindulgence may cause adverse effects.

Lastly the importance of high fibre foods in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle is presented as the 'formula' for a healthy body and avoidance of fibre depleted foods, a fact which is sadly abundant nowadays, is also mentioned.

Since ancient times, foods containing complex carbohydrates have been considered to be the ones with most nutritional value. Even the Bible speaks of how the complex carbohydrate manna miraculously sustained the children of Israel during their progress through the wilderness. Bread, of course, became known as the staff of life, and potatoes, a New World food, were grown on the private lands of Frederick the Great in 1774 to set...