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Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber: What’s The Difference?

10/8/2012

oatmeal

Get more fiber into your diet. Eating high-fiber foods is great for your digestive system, and can help lessen your chances of developing colon cancer, or other problems such as indigestion or even hemorrhoids.

OK, but what kind of fiber should you eat? Here’s a quick rundown on the two types of fiber. Soluble and insoluble fibers have different affects on the body and helps prevent digestive problems.

Soluble Fiber. This kind of fiber dissolves in water. It attracts water and forms a gel once you eat it, and this in turn slows down digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. This has a positive effect on blood-sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which can help control diabetes. Soluble fiber also helps lower the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level by slowing the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Where to find it: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, applies, oranges, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, blueberries, cucumbers, celery and carrots.

Insoluble Fiber. This fiber adds bulk to the diet, keeping things moving in your digestive tract. It doesn’t dissolve in water, so it moves through you pretty much intact.

Where to find it: Whole wheat, whole grains, 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.

We need to eat plenty of fiber every day — 25 grams for women under 50 and 30 to 38 grams per day for men under 50. Right now, most of us are only getting about 15 grams per day. So getting more is important, and don’t worry about which kind unless you’re looking to do something specific, like lower cholesterol, or ease symptoms of constipation of diarrhea.

Lastly, keep in mind that more fiber sometimes means more gas, so don’t change your diet all at once. Boost the fruit and vegetable intake over a few days, and be sure to drink plenty of water to help your digestive system along.

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