"Dietary fibre" includes a range of relatively poorly digested food substances mainly composed of non-starch polysaccharides. Pectins and gums are multi-branched hydrophilic substances, forming viscous solutions that delay gastric emptying and nutrient absorption from the small bowel. They are used to delay gastric emptying and improve glycemic control in diabetes, as well as to alleviate constipation. Other fibres, including cellulose and lignins, are insoluble and have little effect on gastric emptying and small bowel transit. They markedly accelerate colonic transit and are frequently used as laxatives. Other important, less well-characterised effects of fibre include lowering of blood cholesterol, increase in satiety and possibly reduction in colon neoplasia.