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Fiber Factors

February 7th, 2014

High fiber diets went through their “fad”, but are not to be forgotten. In general, fiber is a carbohydrate in plants that is essential for multiple bodily functions. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble, which take on different roles in your body. For a well balanced diet, you need about equal amounts of each type of fiber.

Soluble Fiber

By the name of it you could have probably guessed that soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. This results in the fiber attracting the water in your stomach and actually forming a slight gel or sludge, which slows digestion. Slowed digestion helps you feel full longer and therefore helps to regulate your diet. Soluble fiber may also help lower cholesterol because it disrupts the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream. Additionally, there is thought that soluble fiber helps control blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which would help control diabetes. 

You can get soluble fiber by including more oats and grains into your diet; acacia fiber has a unique source of soluble fiber. Psyllium seed husk is considered to have the highest soluble fiber concentration (We will look deeper into this unique seed next month) Citrus fruits, carrots, brussel sprouts and other fruits and vegetables are other great sources of soluble fiber. You can also boost your fiber intake through the use of a powder in your water, meal-replacement shakes or food.

Insoluble Fiber

On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and therefore takes on different functions in the body.  Since they do not absorb, they pass through the body pretty much in the same form they entered your body in. They really help clear waste from your body and are often used in large amounts as a stool softener.

For the most part, insoluble fiber is the part of plants that is harder to chew and break down. The skins of fruits and vegetables or the outer layer of beans have a high insoluble fiber content. If you are having trouble keeping your fiber intake up, it is also an option to take a dietary fiber supplement, which would have well balanced sources of both insoluble and soluble fibers.

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