1 The indigestible part of plants consisting of non-starch, structural polysaccharides including cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, pectin, and lignin. Nutritionists divide fibre into two main types: water-insoluble fibre (e.g. cellulose and lignin) and water-soluble fibre (e.g. guar and pectin). Foods high in fibre include cereals, fruit, and vegetables. Fibre is resistant to human digestion and therefore passes through the gut virtually unaltered, absorbing water, and helping to accelerate the elimination of faeces. A diet rich in fibre decreases the time taken for food to pass through the alimentary canal. It reduces the risk of constipation and some types of cancer. It may also help to reduce cholesterol levels, but a diet that has too much fibre may lead to diarrhoea, loss of body fluids, and dehydration. A balanced diet contains about 20–40 g of fibre (depending on age) per day with about three-quarters being water soluble.
2 A thread-like process such as a muscle fibre, collagen fibre, or nerve fibre.
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