These are food components that cannot be digested and assimilated by a person. Main indigestible substances are dietary fibers, contained in all the plants, the main one being cellulose.
All dietary fibers are polysaccharides of different structures with huge macromolecules. Many bacteria can easily break up these compounds, but enzymes in the human body are not capable of this.
For this reason, official science for a long time considered indigestible substances not only useless, but even harmful for health. Only after creation of theory of adequate eating, this view was changed. However, all common methods of health improvement and recovery that proved their effectiveness on real cases have always insisted on natural diets, consisting of whole products, with prevailing fruits and vegetables, containing a huge amount of dietary fibers.
Nowadays, it has been proved that dietary fibers fulfill normalizing functions on all stages of digestion. They influence the speed of stomach emptying, intensity of absorption in the small intestine, as well as the general time the food takes to pass through the gastrointestinal tract, and they also help to avoid constipations.
Indigestible substances make up one of the major sources of nutrition for the intestinal microflora, a normal content of which determines vital processes of the whole organism. Bacterial microflora destroys various toxins, synthesizes vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and amino acids.
In addition, dietary fibers are great sorbents, i.e. they can actively absorb various compounds using their micropores. There are various artificial sorbents used in medical purposes, which usually are activated charcoals of different origin. They are prescribed in dozens of diseases, among which are various intoxications, including the ones caused be medicines, kidney, liver and bile duct diseases, pancreatitis, peritonitis, some diseases of cardiovascular system and different autoimmune disorders – rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis and allergies.
The healing properties of such medicines depend directly on their absorbing properties. Their use results in neutralization of many poisonous and excessive unnecessary metabolism products – urea and creatinine, cholesterol, different allergens etc. Simultaneously, synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids is improved, lipid metabolism is normalized (lipids are fats and fat-like substances), i.e. they have a rejuvenating effect. In fact, in laboratory conditions researchers managed to prolong life of old animals by 35-40% by including sorbents in their diets.
However, taking activated charcoal for a long time is impossible, it leads to digestion disorders, nausea, vomiting. It is also not needed, as any fresh plant contains enough natural sorbents. According to V. Stelko and Y. Butylin: “… a couple of tens of grams of natural porous dietary fibers passing through the intestine every day creates additional absorbing surface with an area of several thousand square meters…” (Diseases of civilization, p.55). Thousands of square meters! This is not a joke. The abovementioned “couple of tens of grams” are easily received from natural food. For example, whole grain wheat flower contains up to 13% of dietary fibers (according to the same). There is also a lot of them in other grains, vegetables, fruits and herbs. All this food forms some toxins on its own, but then it is capable of removing up to a half of other poisonous metabolism products.
The ability of dietary fibers to absorb other compounds is also often used. For example, pectins remove heavy metal salts. For this reason, people working with such substances, including the radioactive ones, are advised to eat more products rich in pectins (currant, especially the red one, apples and jams made of them etc.)
During atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease it is recommended to add bran to food, as it normalizes cholesterol metabolism and minimizes harmful consequences of excessive consumption of fats and carbohydrates. So it results in an ideal situation in which normal food becomes medicine, what was desired back in times of Hippocrates and is widely used in Ayurveda.
It is clear that people with some diseases (e.g. acute peptic ulcer disease, acute gastritis and others) should not eat rough products, but only during the acute stages of their condition! Our gastrointestinal tract cannot endure a bowel rest diet for a long time. After a couple of weeks of consuming refined products, sluggishness of the bowels starts developing and it is usually accompanied by dysbacteriosis (increased levels of harmful bacteria), increased flatulence and other problems.
By proving this, scientists finally admitted an ancient and seemingly obvious truth. Simple, rich in roughage food brings health and long life, while food that was refined and cooked in a complex way means decrepitude, diseases and early ageing.
Let’s examine briefly some other food components.
FREE ORGANIC ACIDS
Despite not being contained in big quantities in the majority of products, free acids are very active biologically and have a significant influence on many metabolic processes. Salicylic acid contained in raspberry, for example, has diaphoretic and febrifuge properties (remember aspirin – acetylsalicylic acid). Tartronic acid, contained in cabbage, cucumbers, apples, tomatoes and currant, regulates transformation of carbohydrates into fats and contributes to weight normalization. Citric acid, giving the characteristic taste to lemons (citric acid is very common in the vegetable world, as it can be found in apples, currant, raspberry, sorrel etc.), effectively clears the intestine and improves its microflora. Other organic acids also have a beneficial effect on the intestine as they prevent rotting.
Another remarkable property of free acids (citric, benzoic, tartaric, lactic, malic etc.) is in the alkalization effect they have on our bodies. Yes, this is not a mistake, organic acids do alkalize our blood. That is why the diet of long living inhabitants of Caucasus contains around 2 grams of such acids per day (and about 24 grams of dietary fibers: Evenstein “Popular dietology”).
Tannins have an astringent, tart taste. They are contained in tea, persimmon, quince etc. As you can see from its name, tannins possess tanning properties. Products rich in tannins are often used to treat diarrhea. Sometimes they are prescribed during heart and blood vessel diseases. But in everyday diet “healthy” people should try to avoid it.
These volatile aromatic compounds are famous for their antimicrobial properties. They are contained in garlic, onion, horseradish, radish and spices. All these plants can be used to stop dysbacteriosis, but they carry a lot of rajas energy.
The group of pigments includes various compounds giving plants bright colors. These substances are usually very beneficial and biologically active. The most well-known pigments are yellow, orange and red carotenoids, forming our visual purple (they are contained in carrot, red pepper and rose hips), yellow flavones contained in citrus fruits, persimmon, pumpkin and turnip, and red, purple and blue anthocyanins of beetroot, sweet cherry, plums, raspberry and eggplant.
NITROGEN-CONTAINING EXTRANEOUS COMPONENTS AND PURINE BASES
To this group belong substances such as creatine, creatinine, methylguanidine, hypoxanthine and others. They are contained in meat and fish, while purine bases are also contained in sorrels, spinach, horse radish, radish, tea, coffee, cocoa and ripe beans.
Extraneous components irritate digestive organs and the nervous system and their excess has a negative effect on kidneys, heart, stomach and intestine. Moreover, big amount of purines causes uric acid metabolism disorders and contributes to gout and arthritis development.
Text: from the book of A Eddar "The treatise of nutrition".