Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is an important part of a balanced diet. It is a carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest like other carbohydrates. It is found in plant foods such as soy, legumes, fruits and vegetables. It is the edible part of the plant cell wall, resistant to digestion.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both types are undigested, which means they are not broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. They simply pass through the entire digestive tract without providing calories or energy. However, they can help you feel fuller after eating foods that contain fiber. According to recent research, both types of dietary fiber have health benefits and should be included in the diet. The recommended fiber intake for adults is 20-35 grams per day. Let’s see how soluble fiber differs from insoluble fiber:

Soluble fiber:

Soluble fiber absorbs water from the stomach and intestines during digestion, forming a gel-like substance that slows digestion. It is fermented by bacteria in the digestive tract, releasing gas and a small amount of calories. It helps soften stool so it can pass easily through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It also tends to bind to sugar and cholesterol, preventing or slowing their absorption in the blood. Thus, it helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. In addition, soluble fiber also helps increase the population of good bacteria in the gut. Some scientific names for soluble fiber are pectin, gum, mucilage, etc.

Sources of soluble fiber:

Fruits: berries, bananas, apples, pears, etc.; Roots: sweet potatoes, onions; Vegetables: broccoli, carrots; Legumes: peas, soybeans, lentils; oats, etc.;

Insoluble fiber:

Insoluble fiber, commonly known as whole grains, does not absorb water in the stomach and intestines. As it passes through the digestive tract, it remains more or less unchanged. It is not fermented by bacteria and provides no calories or energy. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to foods, making bowel movements easier. Therefore, its presence in food helps to speed up the digestion and movement of food through the digestive tract, thus helping to prevent constipation and gastrointestinal blockage. Cellulose and lignin are some scientific names for insoluble fibers.

Sources of insoluble fiber:

Whole grain foods, Wheat and corn bran, Legumes such as beans and peas, Nuts and seeds Brown rice, whole grain pasta, Green leafy vegetables.

Benefits of eating dietary fiber (two types):

-Helps reduce food cravings by making you feel fuller
-Helps prevent diabetes by reducing the absorption of glucose into the blood
-Reduce risk of varicose veins
-Reduces chances of hormonal imbalances
-Strengthen the immune system
-Reduces the risk of constipation and hemorrhoids.