Why You Need Soluble Fiber

November 12, 2012

Why You Need Soluble Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber or fiber that we get from food – insoluble and soluble. But what does soluble mean? It means that the fiber is more easily absorbed by the digestive system. Insoluble fiber helps to produce larger and softer stools but soluble fiber helps the intestines produce short-chain fatty acids or fatty acids with up to six carbon atoms.

What‘s so great about fatty acids? They serve a variety of functions. They help give energy to all of the muscles in the body, including the most important muscle of all – the heart. They help to keep blood glucose levels stable. They help lower blood cholesterol. They also help the immune system and helps prevent the colon from forming polyps, or small lumps which may turn cancerous over time.

How Much Adults Need

There is not a general consensus among countries as to how much soluble fiber an adult needs to eat each day. The American Dietary association recommends a higher amount than its British counterpart. But on average, healthy adults should consume at least 12 grams per day up to 35 grams per day.

Although both types of fiber are present in a wide variety of foods, most Westerners do not get enough. Americans in particular gravitate toward a diet high in sugar, meats and processed foods. This leads to a variety of health problems such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and heart disease. All of these problems can be managed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Better yet, eat a varied diet low in fat and high in fiber to prevent getting these potentially lethal illnesses.

Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber

There are many constipation over the counter remedies that contain psyllium husk powder, which is full of both types of fiber. Although fiber nutritional supplements can be added to a diet, it is best to get fiber directly from food. These foods not only contain soluble fiber, but a variety of vitamins and other nutrients that the body needs anyway. They can also help give the body a full feeling so it is less likely to overeat.

Fruits should be eaten fresh, tinned or frozen to get the most nutritional benefits. Fruits high in soluble fiber include:

  • Plums

  • Pears

  • Prunes

  • Any citrus fruit, including oranges and grapefruit

Vegetables should be eaten without heavy sauces or cream-style dressings in order to get the most nutrition. The best vegetables include:

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Any root vegetable such as parsnip, carrots or potatoes

Other foods containing soluble fiber include:

  • Lentils

  • Chick peas (also called garbanzo beans)

  • Whole grains such as bran, rye, oats and wheat

  • Beans such as pinto beans, lima beans or kidney beans

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