Roughage, also known as fibre or bulk, is the structural, indigestible part of plants which does not dissolve in water. Even though roughage passes undigested through your body, it has important health benefits. You can easily obtain adequate amounts of roughage by eating a variety of high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, whole bran and nuts.
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Many fruits are good sources of fibre, but some fruits contain more roughage than others. A 1 cup serving of fresh raspberries provides 2.4g of roughage; one small red apple with skin or half a large pear with skin provides 1.8g; four fresh apricots with skin or 1 ¼ cup of fresh strawberries contains 1.7g; and one and a half dried figs provide 1.6g of roughage. Fruits containing roughage in lesser amounts include plums, mangoes, blueberries, oranges, kiwifruit and peaches, according to Harvard University Health Services.
Eat the skins of fruits such as apples, pears and apricots, as peeling reduces their roughage content. Choose raw, whole fruits over fruit juice. Fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals, but little or no fibre. For example, a ½ cup serving of apple juice contains no fibre, but an apple with its skin intact is a good source of fibre, says Colorado State University. Canned fruits also tend to be lower in fibre than fresh fruits.
Eating fruits with roughage may stop you eating too much and help prevent weight gain. Fibre has no calories but it promotes a feeling of fullness. High-fibre foods must be chewed well before they can be swallowed, making it harder to eat a lot of food in a short period of time.
Roughage absorbs water in the digestive tract, softening and adding bulk to stools. This makes stools easier to pass, helps prevent constipation and promotes regular bowel movements. Roughage may also help make loose, watery stools more solid as it binds to water in the colon, says the Mayo Clinic.
Roughage speeds the passage of food through your digestive tract. This may help prevent intestinal cancer, as waste is removed from the body quicker and there is less time for toxins to accumulate, says the Cleveland Clinic. Eating foods high in fibre may also reduce the risk of haemorrhoids and diverticular disease -- a condition characterised by painful small pouches in the colon, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Adding Fiber to Your Diet
Adding a fruit high in fibre to every meal and choosing high-fibre fruits as snacks is a good way to fit more fibre into your diet. Increase the fibre content of your diet gradually -- over two to three weeks -- to allow bacteria in your digestive system to comfortably adapt. Adding too much fibre too quickly can cause bloating, abdominal cramps, flatulence and constipation. Drink eight glasses of water each day to help fibre pass through your digestive system, suggests MedlinePlus.
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