Soluble fiber verses insoluble fiber – what’s the difference?
Fiber is an important part of our diet. Does it matter if the fiber is soluble or insoluble? Find out the difference and the importance of both kinds of fiber.
Most of us know that fiber is an important part of our diets, but have you ever wondered what the difference is between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber? Does it really matter what type of fiber we eat? Each type of fiber has a different purpose for our health and is important according to Michigan State University Extension. Soluble fiber is fiber that dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber stays intact as it passes through the body.
Insoluble fiber aids in our digestion. This type of fiber does not break down during digestion. It hangs onto water and it helps to add bulk and softness to stools. According to Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Third Edition, by aiding in our digestion, insoluble fiber helps to relieve constipation. In addition, by helping to remove waste from our colon, it lessens the amount of time that harmful substances remain in contact with the colon’s lining. Insoluble fiber works to prevent other conditions such as hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.
Soluble fiber also plays and important role in our health. When soluble fiber dissolves it becomes gummy or sticky. Examples of soluble fiber include gums, mucilages and pectin. When soluble fiber passes through the body it attaches to fatty substances and promotes the elimination of these substances. This process appears to help lower blood cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels aiding in the prevention of long term chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Many foods high in fiber carry many other nutrients including antioxidants, and phytonutrients that work to keep our bodies healthy. How much fiber do our bodies need? It ranges from 21 grams to 38 grams a day depending on your age and whether you are male or female. Fiber comes from plant based foods. Most people can get the proper amount of fiber by eating the recommended daily amounts of whole-grain products, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. To see the recommended amount of fiber per day for you, consult the USDA Dietary Guidelines.