The topic of soluble vs insoluble fiber is very relevant to you.
Soluble and insoluble fiber are not the same things. You might tolerate one more than the other.
My job and goal for today is to break them both down to help you better understand soluble vs insoluble fiber.
Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber
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In general, fiber is all parts of a plant-based food that cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. It is a complex carbohydrate that does not raise blood sugar levels. And it’s an essential nutrient that we must get from our diet; the body does not make fiber on its own.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine. This is the fiber that adds bulk to the stool.
- releases a few calories
- transforms into a thick, gel-like substance
- prevents fats from being absorbed
- some feed gut bacteria, as it is fermentable in the colon (so bacteria thrive longer)
Examples of Food Containing Soluble Fiber
Make note with both the soluble and insoluble fiber lists: Most fiber-rich foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Whatever list the item is on, though, contains a dominant amount of that fiber.
- black beans
- lima beans (on both lists)
- Brussels sprouts
- sweet potatoes
- kidney beans
- sunflower seeds
- barley (not gluten-free)
- chia seeds
- inulin, which contains all of THESE foods
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and it is not digested.
- not a source of calories
- can help prevent constipation because it absorbs fluid and sticks to other byproducts of digestion that are ready to be formed into the stool
- speeds up the movement and processing of waste, helping prevent gastrointestinal blockage and constipation
- might help prevent Diverticulosis and Hemorrhoids
Examples of Food Containing Insoluble Fiber
- green beans
- brown rice
- wheat bran and wheat germ
- lima beans (on both lists)
- coconut (flakes and flour)
Should I Eat Fiber Right Now?
As I mentioned in How to Achieve Optimal Microbiome Diversity,
Depending on age and gender, the recommended daily fiber is anywhere from 25-30g.
And yet, the average American consumes just 15g per day.
I know this is the main question you have. So I’ll help you break it down based off of both research and personal experience.
Here are the 5 things to think about for your own situation:
Soluble fiber feeds gut bacteria
And this is supposed to be a good thing…..if you have the “good” bacteria going on. If not, then what? That’s right. Soluble fiber will still feed your bacteria. What’s the state of your gut bacteria?
Insoluble fiber speeds up movement
If you already are having a lot of diarrhea, this might not be your best option.
Water, water, and more water
If you’re eating a lot of fiber, be sure to drink enough fluids with it as well. Otherwise, your chances for constipation increase.
Type of fiber PLUS….
Each food listed above is made up of more than just fiber. Take for instance cauliflower. Cauliflower contains insoluble fiber, but it also contains high amounts of the Polyol-mannitol. At just 1 serving (3/4 cup), cauliflower is a high-FODMAP food. If you have active SIBO and/or do not tolerate FODMAPs (mannitol in particular), this might not be your best fiber option.
How is that working for you?
Hands down, best question you can ask yourself, “How is this working for me?” If you’re recording, tracking, and paying attention, this will be crystal clear.
Did you come to A Gutsy Girl today because you just want to optimize your digestive health? In other words, you have no digestive health issues but you’re looking to ensure it stays the healthiest it can?
Then by all means, please don’t overthink soluble vs insoluble fiber. Both serve a purpose. Your goal should be, “how can I get even more fiber into my diet?” Remember, the Hadza people consume 100+ grams of fiber per day. Goals.
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You will heal. I will help.