Roughage

Definition Roughage is non-digestible fibre, which occurs in certain types of:


     Fruit

     Vegetables

     Cereals that contain wheat fibre

     Wholemeal brown bread 

 

As this type of fibre is not digested it has no nutritional value. Any benefit from eating this is simply due to the fact that it increases the bulk and softness of the stools which may be of benefit in patients with mild constipation and those with pile or perianal symptoms. It has also been suggested that the relative lack of this in western diets has resulted in the development of certain bowel diseases such as diverticular disease and bowel cancer.

Indigestible fibre is also the origin of some of the gas that is produced in the bowel as it is fermented in the colon by bacteria. In some patients this can lead to bloating and even pain and in patients with conditions such as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome reducing indigestible fibre in the diet actually makes them better.

 

Some experienced doctors now believe that the benefit of indigestible fibre has been over emphasized and certainly it is now quite common for doctors to advise people to reduce the fibre in their diet if they aren’t constipated but are having bloating and abdominal pain or in patients who are going to the toilet too often with looser stools.

 

However the simple rules about how much indigestible fibre you should eat;

 

if you are going to the toilet less frequently to pass harder, drier stools try eating more fibre  

if you are going to the toilet too often with looser stools try eating less fibre.

 

Important: Foods that contain little non-digestible fibre are  - potatoes, white rice and pasta, certain cereals such as cornflakes and rice crispies and salads such as tomatoes and lettuce.
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