Fiber medicine

Soluble or insoluble fiber: what’s the difference?

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

Dietary fiber is the part of plant-based foods that primarily passes through your digestive system without being broken down or digested. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and includes vegetable pectin and gums. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It includes vegetable cellulose and hemicellulose.

Most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but in different amounts. Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and supports many different body systems.

Read on to learn more about the differences, pros, and cons between soluble and insoluble fiber.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber have unique benefits.

When soluble fiber dissolves, it creates a gel that can improve digestion in several ways. Soluble fiber can lower blood cholesterol and sugar. It helps your body improve blood sugar control, which can help reduce your risk of diabetes.

Insoluble fiber draws water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass with less pressure on your bowels. Insoluble fiber can help promote gut health and regularity. It also supports insulin sensitivity and, like soluble fiber, may help reduce your risk of diabetes.

Dietary fiber can do a lot to support gut health, which researchers say is increasingly playing a role in many health issues throughout your body. The right amount of overall dietary fiber can:

  • control body weight
  • control and possibly prevent hypertension
  • help balance cholesterol levels in the blood
  • regulate bowel movements and prevent hemorrhoids
  • regulate blood sugar
  • regulate your body’s satiety signals, which let you know when you’re full
  • lower risk of colon cancer
  • less risk of breast cancer
  • less risk of diabetes
  • require more chewing, which slows down your meals and aids digestion

Did you know?

Increasing your dietary fiber intake by two servings of whole grain products each day could reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 21 percent.

Summary

Soluble and insoluble fiber have their own benefits. Soluble fiber can help improve digestion and lower blood sugar, while insoluble fiber can soften the stool, making it easier to pass.

Too much fiber can cause gas, pain, and abdominal bloating. Talk to your doctor if you experience these side effects. Chances are you’re consuming less fiber than you need, but not more.

If you want to increase your fiber intake, it’s important to increase your servings slowly over time. In order to see the full benefits of eating fiber, you also need to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.

Summary

If you consume too much fiber, you may experience gas, pain, and bloating. Drinking plenty of water will help you see the benefits of eating fiber.

Dietary fiber is a natural and important part of a balanced diet. It is estimated that people in the United States get less than half of their recommended fiber each day. Learn more about recommended daily amounts of fiber.

here are the recommendations for your total dietary fiber, which includes both soluble and insoluble types:

You can increase your daily fiber intake by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. Here are some examples of foods you can eat to increase your fiber intake:

  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread contains about 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of cooked rolled oats contains about 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of cooked black beans contains about 15 grams of fiber

Powder and pill supplements may be needed on occasion, but real food is best because it will also provide you with the vitamins and nutrients you need to supplement your diet. Talk to your doctor before relying on supplements.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing foods with dietary fiber:

  • Canned and processed foods have less fiber than fresh, whole foods.
  • Foods with added fiber may have “chicory root” or “inulin” listed as ingredients.
  • Plants have varying levels of insoluble and soluble fiber, so it’s very important to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains to reap the benefits of both types of fiber.
  • Consult a pediatrician before giving your child fiber supplements, as they may be habit-forming.

Summary

Daily recommendations include soluble and insoluble fiber. You can increase your fiber intake by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and grains. Fiber supplements are available if needed.

Good sources of soluble fiber include:

  • oats
  • peas
  • Beans
  • apples
  • citrus
  • carrots
  • barley
  • psyllium

To add more soluble fiber to your diet:

  • Sprinkle psyllium flakes on your food.
  • Prepare a hearty soup with broth and carrots, barley, peas and beans for a hearty and healthy meal.
  • Snack on apples, oranges, or grapefruits when you crave something sweet.
  • Try making your own dried fruit for a healthy and convenient diet.

Summary

Some of the best sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans, fruits, and vegetables. To add more soluble fiber to your diet, make a hearty vegetable soup or cut out fresh produce for snacks.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include:

  • whole wheat flour
  • bran
  • nuts
  • Beans
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • potatoes

To add more insoluble fiber to your diet:

  • Start your day with whole grain toast, oatmeal or a fibrous cereal for breakfast.
  • When baking, replace some or all of the flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Have nuts on hand for healthy snacks.
  • Buy fresh cauliflower and green beans at the store. Rinse and chop them as soon as you get home, and keep them on hand to steam or eat raw as a snack or side dish to a meal.

Summary

Some of the best sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, beans, and potatoes. To add more insoluble fiber to your diet, try cooking with whole wheat flour or grab a handful of nuts for a snack.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are important for a healthy diet. They help fight diabetes and certain cancers, and support cardiovascular and digestive health.

Many Americans don’t get enough fiber in their daily diet.

You can slowly and easily eat more real foods that are naturally high in fiber for both short-term and long-term benefits. Here are some other fiber-rich foods to add to your diet.