You may already be aware that fibre is an extremely important element in our diet, not only for digestion but for overall health. Many are also aware that there are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. But how do you know the difference between the two?
We’ve put together a simple guide on the difference between soluble & insoluble fibre, including tips on how to incorporate each into your diet on a regular basis!
Soluble fibre binds to water and forms a gel in our bodies, helping to provide numerous benefits such as slowing down digestion and helping to regulate bowel movements. In addition, a high amount of soluble fibre can assist with the following:
- Helping to keep you feeling full for longer
- Helping to prevent both constipation and diarrhea
- Aiding with blood sugar management
- Possibly helping to lower triglycerides
- Helping to lower cholesterol levels (it does so by binding to your cholesterol and helping to excrete it as waste)
The overall clinical recommendation for soluble fibre is 10g daily (this will also aid with cholesterol management). The easiest way to reach this intake is to add 1 tbsp of finely ground psyllium husk or Metamucil to water, mix well, and drink it down quickly.* However, you can also get a good quantity of soluble fibre from food!
Food sources of soluble fibre include:
- Psyllium husk finely ground (1 tsp = 3g soluble fibre)
- Kellogg’s All Bran Buds (1/3 cup = 3g soluble fibre)
- Nature’s Path Smart Bran (1/2 cup = 2g soluble fibre)
- Black Beans (1/2 cup = 2.4g soluble fibre)
- Oat Bran, Dry (1/3 cup = 2.2g soluble fibre)
*Please ensure you take this about two hours away from other supplements or medications. Psyllium husk can bind to your supplements and medications and excrete them as waste.
Insoluble fibre does not bind with water (it absorbs it) and does not dissolve in the body. What it does is add bulk to your stool, and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. This helps to prevent hemorrhoids and constipation. Typically, you get insoluble fibre through plant-based foods!
Sources of insoluble fibre include:
- Wheat Bran (1/2 cup = 11.3g insoluble fibre)
- Beans (1/2 cup = 4-6g insoluble fibre)
- Lentils (1/2 cup = 4.6g insoluble fibre)
- Flaxseed (1 tbsp = 2.2g insoluble fibre)
- Vegetables like okra, turnip, peas (1/2 cup = 3g insoluble fibre)
To summarize, both sources of fibre are important and you need to ensure that you get a good quantity of both. Males need 38g/day of total fibre, and women need 25g/day.
If you decide to add more fibre to your food intake, go slowly and gradually spread it out over the day. Your body needs time to adjust to an increase in fibre. If you add too much too soon, you could experience excessive gas and abdominal discomfort. It’s also important when adding fibre to increase your water intake. Since insoluble fibre absorbs water, too little fluid with extra fibre can be constipating.
If you think you’re getting too little (or too much!) fibre in your diet, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your dietitian. We’re here and always happy to provide support & guidance!