What is roughage in diet?

While roughage or dietary fibre is an indigestible portion of the food we eat, it plays a vital role in the body and maintains optimal health. In food, the roughage comes predominantly from the fibre eaten as part of cereals, fruits and vegetables. It is a sort of starch, but it does not provide the body with calories or nutrients.

The role of roughage in maintaining the digestive tract running smoothly is very important. These fibres migrate through the intestine to absorb water, providing the requisite mass that can assist the muscles of the intestine to force the waste materials beyond the body. It tends to avoid the occurrence of constipation.

Roughage has both water-soluble and insoluble elements in general. Non-starch polysaccharides such as arabinoxylans, cellulose, and hemicellulose can be defined as the different components of roughage. Other plant components such as resistant starch, resistant dextrins, inulin, lignin, chitin, pectin, β-glucans, and oligosaccharides are also available.

Some roughage is often broken down by the gut bacteria, and so it allows these species to remain healthy. This also avoids the excess rate of growth of any dangerous bacteria. Roughage also plays a vital part in the control of overall weight and in the prevention of multiple heart diseases.

At the same time, it may result in gas and bloating as it is necessary to prevent an excess of fibre.

Along with roughage, it is also necessary to drink a proper amount of water or else the fibre will become a source of constipation on its own.