In general, all fiber is good for your health and foods containing it should be part of your daily meal plan. However, not all fiber is the same. The type of fiber you receive from soluble fiber foods and insoluble fiber foods has different functions in the body. It is usually not necessary to differentiate the two or choose one over the other, but knowing what each does can help you choose your food more intelligently. Knowledge of fiber is beneficial especially to those who have digestive problems, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
What is soluble fiber?
This kind is found in soluble fiber foods. When you ingest it, it dissolves in water and creates a gel-like substance that moves through your body. This gel decelerates digestion to make you feel fuller for longer. When you eat foods without soluble fiber, digestion takes place at a normal, faster rate. Food gets digested quickly and moves out of the stomach to be passed out of your body. When your stomach is empty, you feel hungry again, you eat and the cycle goes on. Soluble fiber, therefore, keeps the food you eat in your stomach for a longer period. It takes time for you to feel hunger, which regulates your appetite and keeps blood sugar levels balanced.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water. It maintains its structure from the time you ingest it to when it leaves you body. Its main functions are to add mass or bulk to stools and acts as a laxative by moving digested food along the digestive tract.
Therefore, if you need to feel fuller for longer, eat more soluble fiber foods. If you need to relieve constipation or symptoms of other digestive conditions, insoluble fiber can be a powerful laxative.
What are soluble fiber foods?
Whole grains are the champions of soluble fiber. Foods like oatmeal, oat bran and other oat-based cereals are great sources of this fiber. A good breakfast would be a bowl of oatmeal with fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, strawberries and apricots. Add vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, asparagus, celery, carrots, cucumbers and turnips to your meals whenever you can. Many types of beans, peas and lentils are also high in soluble fiber.
Add small amounts of flax seed and nuts to your breakfast, lunch and supper to increase your intake.
What are the benefits of soluble fiber foods?
Weight watchers can benefit from these foods because they prevent overeating. Processed and packaged food has very low fiber content. Because of this, they are digested very quickly and leave you hungry sooner. Processed foods also have little nutritional value. Soluble fiber foods keep your appetite under control and can help you stick to a lower calorie diet.
Foods with this fiber also regulate blood sugar levels. Speedy digestion demands more insulin, which can cause sugar levels to peak and drop, especially in diabetics.
Soluble fiber is believed to lower bad cholesterol levels by assisting in its excretion and preventing re-absorption.