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What is Soluble Fiber?

What is Soluble Fiber?

Dietary fiber is categorized into soluble and insoluble fiber. Both these types help improve the digestive health. This article provides information about the various benefits of the soluble fiber, and the foods that are rich in this type of fiber.
Leena Palande
Dietary fiber is an invariable part of the food, which we obtain from plants. It is not digested by the body, and passes undigested through our system. Soluble fiber readily dissolves in water, and forms a gel-like substance during the process of digestion. It gets slowly removed from the body, and thus makes you feel full. On the other hand, the insoluble fiber passes through the digestive tract almost unchanged. As it is insoluble in water, it passes through the system unchanged, and speeds up the passage of waste from the body. Also, the human body is incapable of breaking down the insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber helps improve the digestive health, and prevent several types of diseases.

Health Benefits

Health benefits of incorporating foods rich in soluble fiber are:
  • It slows down the digestion process, and increases the colonic transit time. This promotes better absorption of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
  • It helps lower the cholesterol level, which in turn lowers the risk of heart diseases.
  • It helps lower the triglyceride level as well.
  • Sufficient intake of this fiber helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids or piles, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
  • It promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestine.
  • Fiber-rich food renders a feeling of fullness, which controls the appetite and promotes healthy weight loss.
  • It triggers the release of pancreatic enzymes, and helps in the process of digestion.
  • The fiber is essential for prompt elimination of toxins and heavy metals from the body.
  • The fiber also improves bowel regularity and overall health.
  • It soothes the intestines, and hence helps those affected by irritable bowel syndrome.
  • It is necessary to maintain insulin function. It helps lower the glycemic index of carbohydrates and maintains the blood glucose levels.
  • The fiber helps provide necessary energy to the body.
Foods that Contain Soluble Fiber
  • Oatmeal, rolled or ground oats (they are also known for low sugar content); barley, rye (can be found in different types of breads), and chia
  • Dried fruits and nuts like peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnut, etc.
  • Flaxseed helps fight arthritis, constipation, and diabetes.
  • Vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, squash, zucchini; root vegetables like beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like apples, cranberries, blackberries, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, prunes, berries, bananas, plums, and tangerine
  • Psyllium husk is a good example of mucilage soluble fiber.
  • Soy products such as soy milk and cheese
  • Legumes like peas, soybeans, and other types of beans
  • Brussels sprouts
After consulting with the physician, one may opt for supplements of these fibers. However, it is always better to include natural sources of this fiber in your diet, as these don't lead to any side effects. Experts say that, one should consume at least 21 to 38 g of soluble fiber per day.

Do include pectins and plant gums in the diet, as they make the intestinal contents glutinous, and promote easy digestion. Start the day with a high fiber cereal or oatmeal, with some fruits. Always opt for high fiber whole wheat bread for sandwiches. Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in dietary fiber, is good for health. Such minor dietary changes can promote good health, and help one lead a healthy life.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.