It is actually because your body can’t digest fiber that it plays such an important part in digestion. Soluble fiber, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber may help with weight control. Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination. Many whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. To some degree these differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health.
Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.
Sources of soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.
Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.
Sources of insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.
FiberWell An excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. FiberWell helps to stimulate movement through your intestinal tract, which improves bowel regularity. It is a powdered fiber product designed primarily to provide the metabolic benefits of fiber, helping to support healthy intestinal function and integrity. It features 7 grams of dietary fiber per serving. This powdered formula is designed to support healthy intestinal function, and offers great support for those who want to promote healthy bowel motility.
9 Health Benefits of Fiber
There’s no shortage of research showing how fiber may boost your health. Some of its top potential benefits include:
- Blood sugar control:Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control.
- Heart health:An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.
- Stroke:Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent.
- Weight loss and management:Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people, likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness.
- Skin health:Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
- Diverticulitis:Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
- Hemorrhoids:A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):Fiber may provide some relief from IBS.
- Gallstones and kidney stones:A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.